Western Australian utility Horizon Power is continuing its network-wide roll-out of renewable energy and battery storage-based microgrids, with one of its latest commissions set to take the Fitzgerald River National Park off the grid completely.
In the latest of its measures to secure supply along its huge and sparsely populated grid, Horizon has commissioned local company Magellan Power to develop a stand alone solar, diesel and battery storage system to power the ranger’s station of the national park, near Hopetoun.
Once completed, the system will combine 10kW of solar panels, 25kWh of lithium-ion battery storage and 15 kVA of back-up diesel generation, allowing the decommissioning of 21 power poles and 4km of power lines, some of which crosses over the Culham Inlet at the Park, making it both unsightly and difficult to service.
Horizon has now successfully installed a handful of stand-alone solar and battery storage-based systems, starting last March with customers affected by the Esperance bushfires, which destroyed more than 320 power poles and hundreds of kilometres of power lines in the region in November 2015.
While Horizon’s post bushfire efforts were also directed at redeveloping the network – power was restored to more than 400 customers within 10 days of the fires – managing director Frank Tudor said, at the time, that a more innovative approach made better sense for some of the more susceptible parts of the network.
Now, the same is being done for other parts of the state, with the off-grid renewable energy based systems proving to be a cheaper and often safer option for certain customers than replacing ageing grid-connected poles and wires.
“Horizon Power is now actively looking to remove ageing poles and wires where this will provide a more efficient and cost-effective grid for all our customers,” said consumer energy general manager Mark Paterson in comments in May.
“While a traditional grid connection will remain critical for most customers, at the remote fringes of the grid standalone power is becoming viable today.”
Fitzgerald River, while not the first national park to be taken off-grid in the state, is one of the largest and most botanically significant in Australia, containing almost 20 per cent of WA’s flora species, many of which are not found anywhere else.
Magellan Power, which began works on the project in August 2016, said the company had won the contract for the job partly because it could design and manufacture all the required components in WA.
“Not only were we able to customise a bespoke solution for Horizon Power, but also as Magellan Power makes all the components in Australia, we can provide instant, ongoing support and updated systems for them whenever required, for many years to come,” said managing director Masoud Abshar.
A further project, flagged by Horizon in May, will install a stand-alone power system with 52kWh of energy storage and 20kW solar PV at the Exmouth Golf Club.
Horizon said the project, which is being developed CPS National, will enable the decommissioning of ageing poles and wires “while ensuring excellent reliability at this important community venue.”
As we report here, the utility has also commissioned two 1,000kWh utility-grade batteries in the Gascoyne town of Carnarvon, t0 reduce the amount of fuel that needs to be burned to provide power to the community.