Horizon gets ARENA funding for micro-grid trials in W.A.

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West Australia’s regional power utility Horizon Power will receive $1.9 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency for research into distributed energy such as solar and storage.

The research will be used to get a better understanding on how weather events can impact solar generation, and to help design renewables-based micro-grids to reduce the reliance on centralised fossil fuels.

“The State Government is dedicated to growing renewable energy resources in the State, and this funding will help us to achieve this goal,” state energy minister Ben Wyatt said in a statement,

“These trials (over three years) will create lasting value and impact for customers in regional and remote Western Australia by allowing them to install rooftop solar and PV systems.

“Information gathered from the trials will allow Horizon Power to increase the amount of capacity for renewables on its network which will enable more customers to install solar.”

Wyatt was in Carnarvon on Wednesday to visit two newly installed battery storage units – totalling two megawatts – that are being used to reduce the amount of fossil fuels burned at the Mungallah power station (pictured at top).

The batteries, capable of delivering up to 2MW for one hour, arrived in Carnarvon earlier this year and after undergoing months of extensive testing and commissioning are now in active service, as part of a 12 month trial.

During the twelve month trial, the batteries – provided by the Tianjin Lishen Battery company – will primarily be tested and used to optimise spinning reserve back up and to store energy when renewable output is at its highest.

Horizon expects the trial will result in hundreds of thousands of dollars of savings in fuel and maintenance costs because the use of gas and diesel and generators to provide spinning reserve can be significantly reduced.

Horizon Power managing director Frank Tudor says the Carnarvon system is also capable of being charged when PV systems are producing their maximum outputs, “giving us the flexibility of storing that energy and discharging it when peak demand hits later in the day.

“It is anticipated that mastering this application of technology is a part of the key to achieving higher levels of renewable penetration across all our regional systems.”

Another trial in Broome, where Horizon is a conducting a pilot of high renewables/light grid at LandCorp’s Waranyjarri Estate, will also help Horizon Power determine how to optimise the utilisation of battery technology to further its micro-grid capabilities.

All these learnings will be incorporated into Australia’s largest distributed energy resource microgrid currently being developed in Onslow.

“This is an incredibly innovative project which will present multiple opportunities in the renewable and distributed energy space into the future,” Wyatt said in a statement.



  • Ian

    There are over 400 towns in Western Australia so plenty of scope for this sort of development!