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Proa's new Energy Intelligence helps Defence in the NT

Proa’s new energy intelligence helps Defence to switch on two new solar farms in the Northern Territory

8 February 2024

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Northern Territory’s defence forces  will now be partly “sun powered” after leading Australian energy intelligence company, Proa, helped to power up two new solar farms in Darwin.


Located at RAAF Base Darwin and Robertson Barracks, the solar farms will deliver firm generation to the grid and are the first to comply with the Territory’s strict generator performance standards implemented in 2020.


Proa Managing Director, Dr. Victor Depoorter, said the farms were “special” in that they met a number of unique technical requirements to connect to the grid that are different to the rest of Australia.


“The two new solar farms comply as ‘scheduled generators’ like gas, coal, or hydro, which means they must at all times deliver exactly on their energy export commitments, no more, no less,” Dr Depoorter said.


“The farms completely manage the uncertainty and variability of their generation caused by clouds, bad weather or scheduled outages.”


In a significant milestone for the industry, Dr Depoorter said Proa developed an advanced capacity forecasting and management system over several years that allowed these solar farms to make their commitments with 100% certainty.”


“These solar farms are backed with small battery energy storage systems (BESS), and our intelligent proprietary tools which act as the brain of the Defence sites, making decisions dynamically on how much can be offered to the market,” he said.


“Those calculations are made in real-time based on the forecasted weather conditions, the availability of the plant, the firming capacity of the batteries, and the compliance metrics.”


“For example, when there is the risk of clouds causing sudden ramps in the electricity generation, our system will pre-curtail the plant to a safe level that could be ‘firmed’ with the support of the onsite BESS.”


Dr Depoorter said Proa’s new technology offered hope to solar farms in the Northern Territory sitting idle since the strict government regulations were imposed.


“Proa's system as well as all the experience we have accumulated at the Defence sites could help to get these sites up and running. We have a proven track record of cracking complex problems and creating innovative solutions in the energy industry,” he said.


“We’re confident our technology will change how solar will be integrated into the grid in the future, not just in the Territory but around Australia.”


The new solar farms will connect to the Darwin-Katherine Electricity System delivering a combined capacity of approximately 15 MW.

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