Stage Two Of Onslow Microgrid Project Kicks Off

Onlslow renewable energy pilot

Image: Horizon Power

Western Australia’s McGowan Government has announced work on the second stage of Onslow’s microgrid project – the Onslow Renewable Energy Pilot – has commenced.

Situated approximately 1,400 kilometres north of Perth, Onslow is a coastal town with a growing demand for electricity. Back in 2014, Horizon Power installed a temporary diesel fired generator to help address the issue, which was followed in 2015 by three temporary gas-fired generators.

In 2016, Horizon Power, Chevron Australia and Western Australia’s State Government agreed on plans to construct a distributed energy resource (DER) microgrid for the area – one featuring solar power and energy storage.

Stage One of the project was completed last year and included a new modular 7MW gas-fired power station that began generating electricity for the town in July 2018. Horizon Power says the generator is:

“designed to be able to efficiently contract in size as the renewable energy contribution increases, or expand to meet future growth requirements.”

Other works associated with Stage 1 were a new transmission line, zone substation and distribution network extension.

Stage 2 – Solar Energy + Battery Storage

Stage 2 will see solar power and battery storage systems added to homes and businesses in Onslow, which will be supplied and installed by Mechanical Project Services; part of the MPM group. These systems will be integrated with Horizon Power’s DER Management System.

Also in the works is a 1MW solar farm and a 1MWh network battery system. According to Horizon’s project fact sheet, the solar farm was due to be completed by January this year, but the McGowan Government says it will commence providing supply to the town from May 2019.

“The Onslow Renewable Energy Pilot is a landmark initiative that will help build a cleaner, brighter, renewable energy future,” said WA Energy Minister Bill Johnston. “Onslow residents and businesses will get self-generated power and reduced power bills by installing the solar panel and battery storage systems.”

The goal of the Onslow Microgrid Project is to have greater than 50 per cent of the town’s electricity needs be serviced from renewable energy sources. Assuming a successful implementation, Onslow’s microgrid will act as a reference for the development of similar projects in remote communities elsewhere.

WA Farms Going Off-Grid

In other recent solar-related news from Horizon Power, 14 remote farms in Western Australia’s Esperance region will soon be running on solar energy based micro power systems (with generator backup) provided by Horizon Power. These systems will be cheaper for Horizon to maintain than the existing powerlines servicing these locations, as well as providing a more reliable and safer supply.

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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