Meekatharra powering on after five years

Meekatharra Power Station
Meekatharra Power Station

The Meekatharra Power Station continues to perform well nearly five years after starting operations.

The diesel fuelled Meekatharra power station was originally commissioned by Contract Power Australia (CPA) in 2014, with Horizon Power being the sole customer for the 1.8 MW output.

CPA subsequently proposed that Horizon Power augments the power station by installing an adjacent solar farm adjacent on the basis that the two parties would share the reduced fuel costs.

An initial 100 kW of solar was installed by CPA’s related business Hybrid Systems Australia (HSA) in early 2017, and later that year the solar farm was expanded to 450 kW. The solar augmentation was funded and built by HSA and CPA.

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The integration of the CSIRO Cloud Predictive technology within the solar farm has ensured that a reliable and efficient incorporation of solar into the network can be maintained.

The trial of this technology that HSA deployed alongside CSIRO in Meekatharra has exceeded expectations and provided all parties with the confidence in the technology to be able to achieve such high renewable energy penetration levels with no requirement for energy storage.

General manager Generation and Retail Darren Hill said the project had given Horizon Power an alternate means of delivering renewable energy to its power systems.

Meekatharra Power Station
Meekatharra Power Station

“CPA offered Horizon Power means by which the two businesses could share in the benefits from the installation of a solar farm at Meekatharra,” Mr Hill said.

“This involved CPA connecting the solar farm on the power station side of the fence, which meant Horizon Power’s involvement was minimal.

“The power station has achieved instantaneous power penetration in excess of 80 per cent without a battery.

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“Up to 20 per cent of Meekatharra’s daily electricity energy requirement can be provided from the solar farm.

“Overall this project has been very successful. Since its commissioning, there has not been any outages or interruptions attributed to the solar augmentation.”

Meekatharra is a high-cost town where every customer is subsidised by approximately $3900 per year so that customers can benefit from the Uniform Tariff Policy and pay the same price for electricity as customers in the South West Interconnected System.

Mr Hill said reductions in the cost of power reduced the level of subsidy required, but would not directly flow through to customers.

“The flow on benefits for the State have been a modest reduction in power costs as well as reduced emissions,” he said.

“This project has quietly gone about its business and delivered a successful outcome, demonstrating that Horizon Power and independent power producers can work together for win-win solutions.”