Solar and battery microgrid achieves 90% renewables for W.A. gas hub

Horizon Power’s poster child for the shift to a distributed renewable grid, the Western Australia Pilbara town of Onslow, says its solar and battery microgrid is already helping to deliver “more reliable” and cleaner power – at levels of up to 90 per cent renewables.

The W.A. regional utility said on Tuesday that the newly commissioned 1MW solar and battery microgrid had notched up some new milestones, including reliability testing, and the first stage of an intelligent control system.

The latter was being tested to ensure that the microgrid integrated effectively with the broader power system, once fully operational.

“We are achieving up to 90 per cent of the power being delivered in Onslow coming from renewable sources with the commissioning of the solar and battery,” a company spokesperson said.

“However, this is not constant and depends on how much demand, time of the day, cloud cover, etc. The expected reduction in CO2 emissions is 820 tonnes a year.”

“Before the commissioning of the solar and battery, we had 100 per cent fossil fuel generation in the town and we are aiming to reach 100 per cent of generation from renewable sources in the town, at certain times of the day and year, as an outcome of this pilot.

“We expect to achieve the highest levels of renewable energy penetration during the middle of the day in the cooler months.”

As we have reported on One Step, Horizon Power’s Renewable Energy Pilot in Onslow – the launching base for the massive Wheatstone LNG project owned by Chevron – combines a new 8MW gas-fired power plant with distributed and utility-scale solar and battery storage.

Horizon Power built the gas plant in Onslow which was commissioned last year, and this year has delivered the solar farm and battery.

Onslow residents have meanwhile been incentivised to install solar and battery at their homes as part of the project which tests the management of renewable energy in an isolated regional community.

Horizon said this week that the microgrid control technology was now being used to reduce power fluctuations, increase power quality and coordinate power generation from gas plant with the solar farm and battery.

“The benefit to the community from this stage of the project is more reliable, cleaner and greener power through the incorporation of utility grade solar and battery assets into the power infrastructure,” said Horizon CEO Stephanie Unwin in comments on Tuesday.

“The microgrid management technology is an amazing piece of technology that is new to this state and allows for the careful management of the various energy sources in the town,” she said.

The solar and natural gas-powered micro-grid was financially backed by Chevron, which has invested more than $250 million in social and critical infrastructure in the community of Onslow as part of its State Development Agreement.

“Investing in the power projects in Onslow means natural gas is partnering with renewables to deliver affordable, reliable and ever-cleaner energy for the town,” Chevron Australia’s Wheatstone Plant Manager Nigel Comerford said.


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