Commissioning Australia’s largest solar energy project, the Royalla Solar Farm

In September 2014 Australia’s largest solar energy project, the Royalla Solar Farm located in the ACT, was officially opened.  With a 20MW capacity and as part of the national grid, Royalla will supply 4500 homes and 90% of Canberra’s energy needs by 2020 and is a significant renewable energy project for Australia. Spanish firm Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) built the project – Spain is a world leader in solar energy, and the Spanish Foreign Minister attended the launch.

Megavar provided testing and commissioning services to help bring the project to fruition. The Royalla Solar Farm boasts 80 000 solar panels connected to 240 isolation/junction boxes, going back to ten power conversion blocks (each with inverter and 11kv transformer). The distance around all the rows on site is 42km, and Megavar’s team have pretty much walked all these kilometres several times during the course of the project.

Megavar’s brief was to conduct a document review and gap analysis and complete all necessary testing and commissioning so the solar array could be energised.  The idea was that any specialty or unaccounted-for testing would be identified and covered by Megavar.

Our team spent many months on site testing high voltage equipment, including:

  • ten 2MVA step-up transformers (11kV/400V)
  • ten ring main switchgear units
  • two feeder switchboards, including measuring instruments and duplicate protection systems
  • line impedance testing of two 5km underground 11kV feeders, extending into another 1.5km of ring-main reticulation
  • loop resistance and open circuit voltage measurements of over 4000 strings of solar panels

The Megavar team also provided special technical assistance to the Royalla project, reviewing testing methods and results, providing testing procedures and coordinating testing conducted by other parties. We provided independent advice on matters of electrical compliance, and coordinated testing to achieve compliance with commercial requirements and connection agreements.

Megavar provided specialist advice and assistance to a wide range of stakeholders to the Royalla project, including plant owner Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV); our client Acciona Energy Oceania Construction, and power utility ActewAGL . We worked closely with other suppliers and contractors including Ingeteam (solar inverter provider), CATCon (civil contractor), AECOM (electrical designer), and Robin Johnson Engineering (electrical sub-contractor); and with regulators including Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), and ESDD (Department of Environment, Sustainability and Development, the electrical inspectorate).

The Royalla project faced various delays and obstacles related to complex compliance requirements, weather and other external factors. Megavar’s experienced and professional team brought strong construction and commissioning experience to the Royalla Solar Farm project and helped mitigate these issues and avoid further complications and delays. Megavar’s team worked hard to deliver a high quality service and is proud to have played a key role realising this ground-breaking renewable energy project for Australia’s power supply industry.