A town in north-western Western Australia that is famous for its record-breaking stretches of sweltering heat has been fitted with a community-scale battery energy storage system, in a bid to accommodate more rooftop solar and, no doubt, power more local air conditioning.
WA energy minister Bill Johnston on Wednesday announced the installation of the 582kW/583kWh BESS at Marble Bar, commissioned by state-owned regional utility Horizon Power and delivered by local outfit Hybrid Systems Australia.
The East Pilbara town of Marble Bar – population 600 – calls itself Australia’s hottest town, with temperatures topping 35°C for an average of 200 days a year, often for long stretches of time without break. In the summer of 1923-24, the town set a Guinness World Record of 100 days above 40°C.
The BESS joins the Marble Bar solar farm (both pictured above), which generates more than 1000MWh of renewable electricity per year.
The newly commissioned battery system will undergo 60 days of reliability testing and, all going to plan, is expected to release 100kW of extra rooftop solar hosting capacity in Marble Bar by early 2022.
According to Horizon Power, that figure is based on a “standard 3kW rooftop solar system,” which the utility says has the potential to reduce average households energy bills by an average of $1,275 a year.
“We know customers from across our service area have a strong appetite for connecting their own rooftop solar systems and installing batteries like this one in Marble Bar mean we can help them achieve this,” said Horizon Power CEO Stephanie Unwin.
“This exciting project is just another way we are delivering on our goal to reduce our customers’ energy bills by 10% and have zero refusals when it comes to connecting solar in the next four years.”
The Marble Bar BESS is actually one of nine that Horizon Power is rolling out to regional communities in the state as part of the $31 million Energy Storage in Regional Towns project, which in turn is part of Horizon’s $75 million Renew the Regions Program.
Other recipients of the scheme include Broome, Carnarvon, Exmouth, Wiluna, Yalgoo and Yungngora. In total the project is expected to enable the release of approximately 10MW of new rooftop solar hosting capacity, again based on an average of 3kW systems.
Horizon Power also noted that if all of the new hosting capacity from all of the regional batteries was all taken up, around 17,000,000kWh a year of additional energy would be generated from renewable sources, cutting carbon dioxide emissions in regional WA by about 10,000 tonnes a year.
Battery systems installed in Wiluna (291kW) and Yalgoo (194kW) were commissioned last month, while BESS solutions are also currently being investigated for Menzies and Gascoyne Junction. The installation of the Yungngora BESS is currently underway, with commissioning anticipated for December.