Western Power seeks solar + storage, community options to avoid network spending | RenewEconomy

Western Power seeks solar + storage, community options to avoid network spending

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Western Power seeking tenders on solar + storage, and from community groups, as alternative to spending $30m on new poles and wires in high-growth demand area.

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Western Power says it is seeking tenders from third parties that could include solar and storage and community energy as it seeks to avoid spending $30 million in one of the high-growth areas of its network.

The government-owned network operator says it is seeking expressions of interest from businesses and community groups who may be able to provide “non-network” solutions to manage electricity demand in the Mandurah region, south of Perth.

mandurah2
Mandurah, WA

Mandurah has one of the highest rates of population growth in the country, and over the next five years demand is forecast to place pressure on electricity infrastructure in the region. It also has among the highest rates of solar penetration in the country.

Western Power’s head of asset management Seán Mc Goldrick, says that more than $30 million of network investment would be required by 2020/21 under current design protocols to meet demand.

But this could be avoided if other solutions, such as combining solar and storage, could meet that demand more cost effectively.

“Our current forecasts show a steady increase in electricity demand as the Mandurah region continues to grow and normally Western Power would install extra network capacity to keep pace with that demand,” McGoldrick said in a statement.

“However, non-network solutions, such as communities better managing or reducing energy consumption or that involve solar systems and battery storage, may be more cost efficient and provide greater flexibility over the long-term.”

McGoldrick says the challenge of meeting a community’s power needs was no longer a job for a central planning group. Indeed, last month, McGoldrick unveiled a vision where networks such as Western Power are broken up into “modular” units, where some towns and communities operate as micro-grids.

McGoldrick says it is important that communities and individual electricity consumers have a say in how and where they will access their energy.

“These days, meeting demand for power is a collaborative effort that involves the entire community,” he said. “We can’t just install new transformers, larger poles and longer wires, and expect our customers will be happy for them to possibly sit idle.

“We are embracing opportunities, such as which exists in the Mandurah region, to test alternative methods and technologies to reduce peak demand and provide more cost effective ways to deliver electricity to our customers.”

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5 Comments
  1. Ian 4 years ago

    Interesting to see how this pans out for them. The development of new suburbs with the possibility of mini-grid hubs connected with thin wires to the main grid. Keep us posted .

  2. Pedro 4 years ago

    It is good to see some common sense from Western Power. They are showing signs of moving with new more effective technologies.

  3. john 4 years ago

    By implementing solar and storage to meet the majority of the two peaks in the duck tail curve of energy demand, the savings in build and upgraded substations is a win for Western Power as well as those who build in new suburban locations.

  4. MrBuckminster 4 years ago

    Great opportunity for creative collaboration between utility and businesses/community groups to be involved in the planning and development of the electricity network in Mandurah. Expressions of interest are open until 12 August if you would like to submit a proposal. Download the Non-Network Options Report from the Western Power website. http://www.westernpower.com.au/corporate-information-non-network-options-report.html

  5. jeffthewalker 4 years ago

    Western Power could offer (up to) $6,000 per household that installs adequate solar/battery/inverter to meet 100% average daily needs. 5,000 (or more) households would then only draw a few amps from a “thin” wire at average (3A) consumption rate to supplement low insolation, with battery/inverter system handling the peaks.
    Cost: $30M.
    Is 5,000 households enough? Forecast is for 1,000 households per year from 2011 to 2026.

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