Powering up the region

POWERHOUSE: It is expected construction on the Limestone Coast Energy Park will begin in late 2024, with it operational in 2026. Picture: Supplied

Sophie Conlon

A major energy company is powering up to bring a major energy park to the Limestone Coast.

Pacific Green Australia managing director Joel Alexander said it was exciting to lead a project of this scale.

“The Limestone Coast Energy Park will be the largest energy park in South Australia, so to be able to contribute to South Australia meeting its net zero targets by 2050 being 100 per cent is extremely exciting,” he said.

Mr Alexander said South Australia was a powerhouse in renewable energy and this park would help manage the influx of solar and wind power generated at peak times.

“It’s no secret that South Australia leads the country by way of its transition, over the last 12 months, 70 per cent of SA’s generation came from a renewable source, which is an amazing start, but we know the job is not done there,” he said.

“The challenge that we have is managing that sheer level of renewable energies being produced in SA through solar PV or the growing number of solar and wind farms, … and that’s really where our batteries come in.

“Battery storage really is the solution to be able to absorb any excess solar during the day and wind during the day and then actually use it at night time.”

He said when energy prices were low during the day the park would act as a load and store power from the grid, before discharging it in the afternoon and evening when the prices were high.

“During that process of charging and discharging we’re actually able to significantly strengthen the grid and obviously help keep energy costs manageable for South Australians,” he said.

“That really does enable the grid operator to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and manage the grid fluctuations in all of those intimate and resources trying to balance them out and ultimately averting blackouts.”

The park would have 1.5 gigawatt hours of power storage and was set to be built next to the South East Substation in Mingbool, which Mr Alexander said meant they could connect directly to the existing infrastructure.

“The battery energy park will wrap around the western and the northern boundaries of that substation,” he said.

The project is currently waiting on development approval from the state government, and if approved Mr Alexander expected construction would start in late 2024.

He said a head contractor would be employed and there would be local content requirements, ensuring jobs would go to Limestone Coast people.

“We really want to make sure the community’s getting the direct benefit out of this project, because it will be a major piece of infrastructure and we want to give back to the community through through regional employment. So it’s quite exciting to be able to do that,” he said.

“Some of the opportunities could include civil contracting, electrical installation, hospitality, accommodation, engineering, of course, so there’s quite a broad range of activities, vegetation, planting, fencing, and really wherever possible.”

Mr Alexander said Pacific Green had created an animation of what the park might look like, which could be viewed at an upcoming community information session.

“I’ll be there, along with several other team members, the idea is to give the community some more insight into the energy park as we prepare for submission for our development application,” he said.

“As the process progresses, we’ll continue to hold those town hall meetings with community members and we’re in regular contact with government to ensure they’re kept up to date on our projects progress.”

Pacific Green will host an information session on Thursday, November 30, at Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre from 2pm to 7pm, where Mr Alexander said the community could ask any questions relating to the park.