Regional WA reaping benefits of renewable energy

Horizon Power is leading the way with renewable energy in regional Western Australia, including the expansion of standalone power solutions and smart residential precincts to the north of the state.

Managing director Frank Tudor told the Energy Networks Australia Welcome to the Grid Edge conference in Sydney last week that with falling costs of technology such as battery storage, Horizon Power was actively adopting new solutions to provide customers more choice and control.

Five stand-alone power systems powered by solar PV and batteries and diesel generation back-up have been operating successfully for more than a year in Esperance.

A new system in Hopetoun at the iconic Fitzgerald National Park will soon be installed, allowing the decommissioning of 4km of poles and wires.

“Horizon Power is now actively looking to remove aging poles and wires where this will provide a more efficient and cost-effective grid for all our customers,” consumer energy general manager Mark Paterson, who is delivering the standalone power system project, said.

“While a traditional grid connection will remain critical for most customers, at the remote fringes of the grid standalone power is becoming viable today.”

The project is now heading north with Horizon Power recently signing a contract with the Exmouth Golf Club to install a standalone power system with 52kWh of energy storage and 20kW solar PV.

This demonstration site enables the decommissioning of the aging poles and wires while ensuring excellent reliability at this important community venue.

Horizon Power is also about to commission two 1000kWh utility grade batteries in the Gascoyne town of Carnarvon that will reduce the amount of fuel that needs to be burned to provide power to the community.

The coastal town of Onslow is also set to host much higher levels of distributed energy resources (DER) and is expected to become Australia’s largest DER microgrid.

The project will connect traditional energy sources with solar power and battery storage to deliver more than half of Onslow’s electricity needs with renewables.

“Horizon Power is excited to be leading this transformational work in Western Australia as we have a unique opportunity to replace some of our aged traditional power infrastructure with a highly Distributed Energy Resource (DER) end-state system,” Mr Tudor said.

“The Onslow project will be one of the largest comprehensive microgrid projects undertaken in Asia Pacific and at a different scale we are providing edge of grid customers with stand-alone power solutions.”

Design work is underway to determine the location of a solar farm and residential and commercial solar and storage.

Recent customer engagement in the town demonstrated strong support for solar innovation in Onslow.

The final report of the Electricity Network Transformation Roadmap released by the ENA and CSIRO highlights the transformation change already underway in WA.

That analysis indicates WA’s rooftop solar capacity will triple by 2030, combined with 2,000 MWh of small-scale battery storage, representing both wider customer adoption and larger system sizes as costs continue to fall.

The final report of the Electricity Network Transformation Roadmap released last month by Energy Networks Australia and CSIRO highlighted transformational changes in the Western Australian energy system.

Energy Networks Australia CEO John Bradley said more than 40 per cent of Western Australia’s energy is projected to come from renewable sources by 2030.

The report confirms the greatest benefits will be seen in remote parts of the state, where the cost of building and maintaining traditional poles and wires is becoming more expensive than alternatives such as standalone power systems.

“Western Australia is set to lead the edge-of grid energy transformation in the coming decade and beyond as more customers continue to take up distributed energy resources like solar and batteries,” Mr Bradley said.