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Aurecon helps transform Australia’s energy landscape

Aurecon helps transform Australia’s energy landscape

The success of Barcaldine Solar Farm’s innovative project methodologies ensured it was able to plug into the grid a month earlier than scheduled

09 May 2017 - Australia’s energy landscape transformation moves forward with the completion of the first solar farm providing Voltage Control to the grid in the country, supported by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

As ARENA continues investing in a series of large-scale solar farms across the country, the global engineering  and  infrastructure advisory company Aurecon has announced the early completion of Barcaldine Solar Farm, paving the way for the next generation of 12 large scale solar farms to be built next year. This will include six in Queensland, five in New South Wales, and one in Western Australia.

The milestone has opened the opportunity to explore the additional benefits of distributed renewable energy to the network and further contributes to Queensland’s proposed 50% renewable energy target by 2030. Queensland currently has a current project pipeline of around 2 500 MW of committed and proposed large scale generation plants, primarily in regional areas.

Aurecon’s Technical Director for Energy Loni Karabesinis said, “Not only does the project generate some 25 MW AC to the grid, the Barcaldine Solar Farm also marks a huge step in the transformation of Australia’s energy sector.”

“Because of its success, large-scale solar PV is likely to become one of the most competitive forms of energy in the long-term, both in Australia and in many other parts of the world with predominantly coal-fired electricity markets,” concluded Karabesinis.

Efficient collaboration was key

With a challenging three-month deadline, Aurecon was able to fast track the design phase, engaging Aurecon’s East Coast Energy team, its local offices in Sydney and Vietnam and the team in Cape Town for the PV electrical works. Aurecon’s Queensland Advisory team was also brought in for planning, flood study works, fire management, and government liaison.

Aurecon was commissioned by engineer-procure-construct contractor Green Light Contractors (GLC) to deliver detailed design services for the developer Elecnor Australia.

The close collaboration between the engineers and GLC in delivering the project so quickly was highlighted by Karabesinis as critical.

Speed in the delivery of drawings in different stages (preliminary design, detailed design, and approved for construction) is crucial in executing short time frame projects like this. Having the GLC design manager co-located with our main delivery team in our office streamlined the process and meant we could resolve issues quickly,” he said.

Experience, excellence, and innovative solutions

ARENA has made it a key priority for its project teams to share knowledge and past experiences in the design and construction processes to better address the energy sector’s challenge of streamlining the integration of renewables into the system.

For Aurecon, the importance of being able to deliver cross-disciplinary solutions utilising various design disciplines (civil, electrical, mechanical, communications, protection specialist) proved invaluable in responding quickly to the many issues that arose during the process.

“Illustrating this, Aurecon’s engineers saw the potential in using a disused water basin as a primary sediment detention basin for site runoff, saving significant time and cost by not having to build a new one,” said Karabesinis.

In another example, during construction, sourcing quality material for unsealed pavement construction became an issue. “Faced with the high cost of having material delivered from hundreds of kilometres away, Aurecon and GLC worked together to source locally available material that complied with the intended performance requirements to save time and costs,” he added.

Faster and proficient energy sector

The success of Barcaldine Solar Farm’s innovative project methodologies ensured it was able to plug into the grid a month earlier than scheduled, helping shape the industry and the community it serves.

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