Photon Energy is wasting no time, wins Wodonga small-scale solar tender

Photon Energy Australia has been busier than a face-mask factory lately, and shows no signs of stopping after winning a tender for a 3 MWp hybrid solar power plant from North East Water to help power the Wodonga Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Following on from the announcement of its first Australian utility-scale PV projects in its independent power producer (IPP) portfolio, Netherlands-based renewables developer Photon Energy (Photon) has won the tender for a 3 MWp hybrid solar power plant in Wodonga, Victoria (VIC).[2]

The tender, valued at AUD$7.28 million, was awarded to Photon Energy by Victorian utility company North East Water. The contract will employ Photon’s Sydney-based subsidiary’s engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services to develop a 3 MWp hybrid solar PV power plant with off-grid capacity adjacent to North East Water’s Wodonga Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). 

The essential nature of the WWTP means that existing diesel generation will remain to ensure the complex stays operational in the event that the facility becomes islanded. Photon has some experience with such necessity given the hybrid solar and battery storage system it is currently installing on UNESCO-listed Lord Howe Island[3]

Lord Howe, already islanded, is set to receive, after a long and politicised wait, a minimum 1.2 MWp solar PV array and a battery system with over 3.2 MWh capacity. Said system is enough to provide more than two-thirds of Lord Howe Island’s electricity, dramatically alleviating the famous island from costly diesel dependency. Construction of the system is set to be completed this month (June 2020). 

Mount Lidgbird and Mount Gower, Lord Howe Island, New South Wales.

Image: Elizabeth Allnutt

“Winning this tender is a significant milestone and together with our success on the Lord Howe Island project is a testimony to our capabilities,” said Michael Gartner, CTO of the Group and Managing Director of Photon Energy Australia. “We look forward to embarking on similar or more complex projects in the near future that will help Australia reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.” 

Wastewater treatment plants are, of course, essential cogs in the system of our modern lives, and while they are notoriously energy-hungry, they are adaptable to renewable integration. With the introduction of a solar array, high voltage reticulation, systems integration and SCADA, the WWTP facility will see its own generational capacity take pressure off the grid. 

Photon Canon 

Photon Energy has been revving up its Australian activities across the board. Together with Canadian Solar, the company developed five utility-scale projects in New South Wales[4] with a planned installed capacity of 1.1 GWp. On the EPC side, Photon’s business in Australia has doubled, with revenues growing to $11.2 million with 6.5 MWp of solar installed including 31 rooftop installations for Aldi supermarkets totaling 4.6 MWp[5].

Most recently, Photon Energy bought a minority equity stake in the Australian technology company RayGen[6] as it looks to commercialise its unique “solar hydro” concentrated solar and thermal storage technology. Photon Energy will don its act as a project developer and EPC contractor hat in a partnership that includes the development of a 100 MWp/1000 MWh solar-plus-storage project.

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