ABB equips solar farm for smooth grid integration

Monday, 14 December, 2020

Two ABB synchronous condensers are enabling the new Darlington Point Solar Farm in NSW to feed a large amount of clean electricity into the local power network while maintaining grid stability and reliability.

With a projected annual output of 685,000 MWh, the 275 MW (AC), 333 MW (DC) solar photovoltaic farm commenced operation in August 2020 and is reported to be the largest solar farm connected to Australia’s grid.

Octopus Investments partnered with solar developer Edify Energy to build the solar farm, seeing it as an important step in transitioning the country to renewable energy. The solar farm — featuring nearly 1 million solar panels spread over 1000 ha — will provide clean electricity for around 115,000 homes, saving up to 583,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

“Solar farms of this scale will become increasingly essential for the expansion of renewable energy in Australia,” Octopus Investments Australia Managing Director Sam Reynolds said.

“This comes with the challenge of ensuring new facilities can operate reliably on the power grid and maintain system strength. With two synchronous condensers, we’re confident this project can be seen as a trailblazing template for the future of renewables in Australia and beyond.”

The ABB synchronous condensers are large rotating machines developed to mimic the operation of coal- or gas-fired generators that historically gave power grids the spinning inertia essential to maintain a stable voltage. They support the connection to TransGrid’s high-voltage transmission network by providing reactive power compensation and additional short-circuit power capacity.

The condensers contribute to short-circuit capacity in weak networks so that the network can easily ride through any fault conditions and avoid loss of power in the region. At Darlington Point Solar Farm, the units are crucial in helping to strengthen the power grid in a part of NSW that challenges new projects’ abilities to meet the stringent connection requirements.

ABB Head of Motion Mike Briggs said, “We’re proud to be supplying our synchronous condenser units for the Darlington Point Solar Farm project. They will add system strength to the power grid, helping to manage the ongoing integration of renewable energy generation. It’s a complete synergy with ABB’s mission to support a sustainable future.”

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