The Western Australia coastal town of Esperance can now meet just under half of its energy needs with a mix of solar, wind and battery storage, after the completion of the Esperance Power Project.
The integrated power system, developed in partnership between Horizon Power and Pacific Energy, combines 4MW of solar PV, 9MW of wind power (two 4.5MW turbines), a 4MW battery energy storage system, and a 22MW high-efficiency gas power station.
The solar and wind section of the microgrid, which has been dubbed the Shark Lake Renewables Hub, was officially launched late last week, with Western Australia’s premier and state energy minister in attendance, along with the CEO of Horizon Power.
And while the occasion celebrated the successful delivery of a system that will supply just below 50% of Esperance’s power from solar and wind, the message of the day was that this was just the beginning of the town’s shift to renewables.
“The new Esperance power system has been designed to accommodate new technology to ensure more renewable energy can be added to the system over the life of the assets,” said Horizon CEO Stephanie Unwin.
“The solar farm, which incorporates 8,900 PV panels, is the largest in the Horizon Power renewable energy portfolio. The panels track the sun across the day, maximising output and, combined with the wind turbines, will meet nearly half of Esperance’s power needs.”
Pacific Energy chief, Jamie Cullen, added that the new Esperance power system was “future-focused” and would evolve over time using the latest technology – as it is, the two new wind turbines installed will generate 60% more energy than the old wind farms combined, he said.
“Pacific Energy came into this project with a clear vision to provide a solution that improved efficiency and reduced the environmental impact of supplying power.
“We are pleased to deliver a state-of-the-art renewables hub and high efficiency gas power station that will cut carbon emissions by nearly 50 per cent, with the aim to improve on this over the life of the system.”
For the WA Labor government, which will save an estimated $10 million a year through the upgraded Esperance power system, the Shark Lake Renewables Hub is part of its Energy Transformation Strategy.
“My government is committed to investing in the solutions required to address climate change, and this project is a terrific example of how we are driving a prosperous low carbon future for WA,” said state premier Mark McGowan at the microgrid launch.
“This project cuts Esperance’s electricity generation emissions by almost 50 per cent on the old system, with the power station designed to integrate even more renewables as they become available.”
Pacific Energy – which first established itself in the WA energy sector through the procurement, installation and operation of remote diesel power stations, but which has been increasingly pivoting to hybrid renewables – will own and operate the microgrid. The electricity generated will be distributed by state-owned Horizon.
Horizon has noted that the very short duration battery system will be used to improve the power hub’s efficiency by responding to variabilities in power transmission, while also reducing the likelihood of power fluctuations, rather than by storing renewables.
A microgrid control system by Juwi, meanwhile, will be used to smooth the integration of the hybrid system into the Horizon network.