Western Australia continues to chip away at the problem of severely limited rooftop solar hosting capacity on some of the more far-flung parts of its expansive regional network, with the addition of two community-scale batteries in the coastal resort town of Broome.
Regional utility Horizon Power said earlier this month that the two Broome batteries were on track to be commissioned in the new year, and would free up more than 1,400kW of new rooftop PV hosting capacity to residents and businesses of the Kimberley town in February of 2022.
Horizon said current hosting capacity constraints limited how much rooftop solar Broome’s electricity network could accommodate without potentially disrupting supply, leaving some residents and businesses out of the solar loop and creating a backlog of demand.
As One Step Off The Grid reported, an allocation of an additional 900kW of residential rooftop PV hosting capacity for Broome released in July this year was exhausted within just a few hours, with more than 160 solar connection applications submitted online.
Horizon says the two community-scale batteries – one of which will be installed at Broome North Primary School – will mean excess energy generated by rooftop solar can be absorbed by the batteries, which can then manage the flow of the power back into the grid.
On that front, the new batteries will also be the first to provide a “Solar Smoothing Service,” allowing Horizon Power customers with larger rooftop systems, who would previously have had to install their own battery, to access the community storage instead, for a fixed daily fee.
This ensures fluctuations in energy generated by systems of 30kW and above do not impact network stability and reliability of power supply, while also removing the added “significant cost” of buying and installing a battery at the customer’s premises.
“We are really proud of this new product, which is the result of dedicated collaboration with the Broome community,” said Horizon Power general manager customer experience Krystal Skinner.
“This new customer solution will make it easier for businesses to access solar energy by providing a cost-effective alternative to installing an onsite smoothing battery, removing the need for upfront costs, the land required, and the ongoing safety and maintenance commitments,” Skinner said.
The Broome community batteries project is a part of Horizon Power’s $75 million Renew the Regions program. Last month, a 582kW/583kWh community battery was installed at the East Pilbara town of Marble Bar – also known as Australia’s hottest town – and is expected to release 100kW of extra rooftop solar hosting capacity for residents by early 2022.