Solar Rollout Celebrations In Western Australia’s Derby

Solar energy - Derby, Western Australia

The completion of streetlight upgrades and rooftop solar installations on a bunch of WA’s Shire of Derby/West Kimberley buildings was celebrated last week.

The rollout is part of Horizon Power’s efforts towards supporting the McGowan Government’s WA Recovery Plan; part of which is a $66.3 million renewable energy focused package.

The $5.2 million Derby Solar, Battery and Smart Streetlights project has so far seen rooftop solar panels installed on 13 Shire buildings and more than 1,100 streetlights upgraded.

In total, 283kW of rooftop solar capacity has been installed on Shire public buildings so far by Derby’s Aboriginal-owned Remote Solar Solutions, which will save on average $130,000 per year on electricity costs and avoid 230 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually. Among the new systems is a 40kW solar shade structure installed at Derby Memorial Swimming Pool.

“This project has provided Horizon Power with an opportunity to partner with the Shire, local contractors and the community to give back something that makes a real difference, and which demonstrates we are serious about delivering energy solutions for regional growth and vibrant communities,” stated Horizon Power CEO Stephanie Unwin.

Commenting on the initiative, WA Energy Minister Bill Johnston said:

“The McGowan Government is committed to working closely with communities to provide renewable energy solutions that will help reduce their electricity costs and create jobs.”

Biggest Solar Installation Yet To Come

There’s more PV and also battery storage to be installed as part of the Derby initiative – a thumping-great 364kW system and community battery at Derby Hospital. The solar power aspect is significantly smaller than when originally announced (550kW) for reasons unknown. At that point the battery installation was to be 275kWh, but perhaps this has also changed.

Derby Home Solar Power Status

It can be challenging for households to install solar panels in some towns in Horizon Power’s service area due to limits on network hosting capacity, but it seems that’s not the situation in Derby currently.

When I last checked in September 2020, there was 211 kW of available solar hosting capacity in Derby up for grabs. The Horizon Power tool for determining eligibility has been changed since and no longer provides hosting capacity status, but indicated I would be able to install up to a 10kW residential system or a 40kW commercial system.

So, it seems it’s a good time for folks in Derby to consider installing home solar; and for businesses too – particularly with current hosting capacity available unclear. Homeowners and business owners can gauge estimated savings and payback using the SolarQuotes solar calculator.

As for small-scale (<100kW) solar power uptake in Derby in recent times, that has picked up a little. Back in September around 151 systems had been installed and the current total count is approximately 172 systems.

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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