Construction of the first utility-scale wind, solar and storage hybrid generator connected to the national electricity network is set to start near Hughenden in North West Queensland.

The first sod of soil will be turned at a ceremony on Monday 11 December. The ceremony marks the start of work on the innovative $160 million Kennedy Park Energy developed by Windlab Limited (ASX:WND) – Australia’s international wind energy company.

Windlab’s Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Roger Price, said Kennedy Energy Park will take around 12 months to construct and is expected to be completed and feeding clean energy into the network by late 2018.

“This is an industry first that will produce and feed clean renewable energy into the grid with much greater consistency and reliability from a combination of solar, wind and battery storage. It’s also an important and valuable demonstration of how renewable energy can be used to cost effectively meet most network demand for power – day and night. We believe that this style of hybrid configuration will be increasingly used, particularly in remote locations and emerging markets, as the world transitions to a clean energy future. We are excited about the opportunities that the expertise gained from this pioneering project will present as we seek to replicate it across selected locations in Australia and Southern Africa.”

The project is owned by Windlab and its equity partner Eurus Energy Holding Corporation of Japan. The clean renewable energy from the project will be produced by 56,000 solar panels and twelve Vestas V136, 3.6 megawatt wind turbines.

“Kennedy Park Energy Hub will have a maximum generating capacity of 60 megawatts of renewable energy – 43 from wind, 15 from solar and two from Li Ion storage batteries. On completion, the wind farm is expected to generate around 210,000 megawatt hours of electricity per annum – enough power to supply more than 35,000 average Australian homes,” he said.

Queensland’s typical daily electricity demand increases during late afternoon and evening and is well matched to the timing to the state’s wind energy profiles. This means Queensland wind farms will produce most of their electricity at these times which coincide with high network demand. Combining wind with the large amounts of solar generation expected to be added to the Queensland grid, will allow a higher penetration of renewable energy at lower costs while reducing the need for storage and other peaking capacity across the network.

“The Hughenden site has an excellent solar irradiation pattern and exceptional complementary wind resources which continue to blow at night making it ideal for a hybrid renewable energy project. The matching of wind and solar will be vital for Queensland in achieving it 50% renewable energy target by 2030,” Mr Price said.

“This is the first stage of what is likely to become a multibillion-dollar investment program in and around Hughenden as this region becomes Australia’s leading renewable energy location with the completion of Queensland’s Clean Energy Hub, with “Big Kennedy” at its centre.

“Big Kennedy is the second phase of the overall project and will provide up to 1,200 megawatts of wind energy and is a central component of the Queensland Government’s Powering North Queensland Plan. Big Kennedy will be critical in balancing Queensland’s solar generation as the state moves towards fifty percent renewable energy capacity.”

Kennedy Energy Park secured finance from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), as part of ARENA’s Advancing Renewables Programme.

CS Energy will purchase the energy from Kennedy Energy Park under a 10-year power purchase agreement.