Alinta Energy takes home major win at Asian Power Awards

The solar gas hybrid project is the culmination of over $250m in investments and the integration of multiple assets.

Australian energy company Alinta Energy bagged the win in the Solar Power Project of the Year - Australia category at the Asian Power Awards 2023 for the construction of the Chichester Solar Gas Hybrid Project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The solar gas hybrid project was the culmination of over $250m in investment and involved the integration of multiple assets. The new assets included the 60MW Chichester Solar Farm, a 60MW expansion of the Newman Power Station and a 65km extension of the existing 220kV transmission line. These assets were integrated with the existing 178MW Newman Power Station, 35MW/11MWh Newman Battery and 120km 220kV transmission line between Newman and Roy Hill. 

The project was the first example of large-scale renewables in both low-inertia grids and remote mining operations in Australia. Its objectives included demonstrating the significant penetration of an intermittent renewable energy sourcing for mining operations was possible; displaying the ability of solar and battery storage to meet 100% of the daytime load for Fortescue’s mining operations; and ensuring improved system security and reliability in a low inertia grid.

As part of the project detailed system studies were carried out, the existing network was first modelled, considering the generators, Newman battery inverters, the transmission network and existing customer load centres. This was augmented with information for new equipment including the solar system, transmission network and the new customer loads.

The model was also run in multiple scenarios to demonstrate that the project could achieve customer and network operator requirements and informed the need to include network support equipment, such as static synchronous compensators and harmonic filters.

“The effort put into those early system studies has been reflected with very high levels of availability since the beginning of commercial operations,” the company said.

The project now includes six sources of generation and four load centres. It has integrated PV cells, lithium-ion batteries, diesel-fired reciprocating engines and gas turbine technologies across five physically distributed locations.

The project can displace around 100 million litres of diesel per year from Fortescue’s Cloudbreak and Christmas Creek operations. This is due to the project being able to supply up to 100% of Fortescue’s daytime load, whilst being supported by Newman assets in periods during low and no solar output.

The Newman expansion and installation of high-efficiency reciprocating engines has also improved its efficiency by approximately 30%, reducing carbon emissions from the power station by approximately 100,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

The solar gas hybrid project received $24.2m in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and a $90m loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.

PLEASE NOTE: At the time of writing the assets mentioned in this article were the subject of a sale process with APA Group

The Asian Power Awards, now in its 19th year, celebrates and honours companies and projects that have taken innovative and game-changing steps to address the effects of the climate crisis and meet the growing demand for energy.

The Asian Power Awards is presented by Asian Power Magazine. To view the full list of winners, click here. If you want to join the 2024 awards programme and be acclaimed for your company's revolutionary innovations and initiatives in the power industry in Asia, please contact Julie Anne Nuñez at [email protected].

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