Esperance Farms To Go Off-Grid With Solar + Storage And Generators

Stand-alone solar power for Esperance farms

Image: Horizon Power

Fourteen remote farms in Western Australia’s Esperance region will soon be ditching electricity supplied via conventional powerlines for solar energy based micro power systems (MPS) from Horizon Power.

Horizon Power is a State Government-owned corporation supplying electricity to around 100,000 residents and 10,000 businesses in regional and remote Western Australia. These customers are scattered across an area of approximately 2.3 million square kilometres.

Long stretches of powerlines servicing small communities and farms are subject to hazards such as lightning strikes, falling trees and high winds; creating a major cost burden to Horizon Power. Given the remoteness of some of the locations, when the power goes out it can also take a long time to be restored.

Micro Power Systems – Safer, More Reliable, Cheaper

Over the past couple years, Horizon Power has been trialling solar power based stand-alone systems at various locations that have not only proved to be more reliable, but cheaper for Horizon to operate and maintain too.

WA Energy Minister Bill Johnston announced yesterday Horizon Power will soon start site works for thirteen more systems that will serve 14 fringe-of-grid properties (one system will be shared) currently relying on ageing power lines.

“These farmers are at the fringe of the power grid, east of Esperance and the Condingup area, where reliability isn’t as good and power outages take longer to restore,” stated Minister Johnston. “The MPS will provide the farmers with more reliable and safe power that will cost the State less to provide.”

The MPS units use solar panels and battery storage sized to a property’s requirements along with a back-up diesel generator for charging the batteries when needed. Battery storage will be sized to ensure it can meet a customer’s energy requirements for a typical 24 hour period without any solar electricity input. Diesel top-ups will be taken care of by Horizon, which will be remotely monitoring fuel levels.

All costs associated with design, installation and maintenance of the units will be met by Horizon Power, which will own and operate the systems. Those using the systems will pay the same tariff that currently applies for electricity from the overhead network.

“Experience has shown us that customers love the MPS solution as it provides them with safe, reliable power, day after day,” said Horizon Power General Manager Consumer Energy Mark Paterson.

It’s expected the Esperance systems will be fully operational and 54 kilometres of powerline infrastructure previously serving the properties decommissioned this year.

Stand-alone power systems already installed by Horizon Power are located at Horizon’s Esperance Depot, Fitzgerald National Park in Hopetoun, Cape Le Grande National Park and the Exmouth Golf Club.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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