Plans to fit 57 regional Western Australian properties with stand alone solar and battery storage are underway, after Western Power signed up three companies to deliver the off-grid power systems.
The state government owned utility said on Thursday that it had partnered with three renewable energy companies – two local Perth outfits and one in Victoria – to deliver the next round in its $8.8 million Stand-alone Power Systems project.
The project – which Western Power claims is the largest single rollout of SPS units in Australia – will install a combination of solar and battery technology with a backup generator at working properties on the network.
The SPS units would be modular and scalable, and range from less than 5kWh, to supply electric fences and dam pumps, to 50kWh for large-scale agricultural businesses.
The major rollout follows a $4 million pilot scheme in 2016, when SPS were installed at six different properties around the vast state, to test how electricity could be delivered to rural and remote customers.
At the time, then energy minister Mike Nahan said the aim was to explore the right mix of technology and service to make stand-alone solutions an option for replacing ageing power poles and lines.
The result was a considerable success, saving the network on grid maintenance costs and saving customers from more than 90 hours of outages in the second year of the trial.
“This larger rollout of solar, battery and backup generator units will contribute to the grid’s ongoing evolution to deliver improved reliability and keep network infrastructure costs down,” Western Power said on its Facebook page on Thursday.
A statement from W.A. energy minister Bill Johnston said the Perth-based companies chosen for the job – Hybrid Systems and BayWA r.e. Solar Systems – would be responsible for supplying the majority of the SPS units for Round 1 of the program.
In a separate statement, Hybrid Systems said it would be supplying, delivering, installing and operating 49 of the 57 SPS – a total of 250kW of solar panels, 220kW of solar inverters and nearly 600kWh of lithium battery energy storage.
According to minister Johnston, the cost of servicing the 57 SPS units for their entire working life would save Western Power almost $6 million, compared to traditional network refurbishment.
“The McGowan Government is committed to supporting WA companies involved in the renewable and battery technologies sector,” he said.
“Increasing regional reliability is a key focus for the Government, and I support the innovative solutions like SPS that Western Power is deploying for regional homes and businesses.
“This announcement builds on the WA Future Battery Industry strategy, which shows the renewable energy industry is a massive opportunity for jobs in our State.”