Distributed grids often rely heavily on solar panels and require less capital investment into transmission assets.

Horizon in $7.1m Carnarvon distributed grid plan

Wednesday, 15 November, 2017 - 15:12

Horizon Power will roll out a $7.1 million distributed energy pilot project in Carnarvon, while the state government has unveiled a trial to incentivise demand management by users during peak periods in Broome.

Horizon, which is a vertically integrated electricity provider in regional areas, plans to install distributed energy technology in around 90 homes and business, including internet of things metering, rooftop solar, household battery storage and inverters, in addition to weather forecast devices.

The trial will take three years and the aim is to help reduce technical barriers of distributed systems, as well as testing commercial viability.

The federal government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency backed the project to the tune of $1.9 million.

Arena chief executive officer Ivor Frischknecht said the pilot project was the first of a series of trials that Horizon planned to undertake.

“These trials of distributed energy systems will explore the most cost-effective way of designing and managing a future grid,” he said.

“If we can resolve the technical and cost barriers of distributed energy systems and get metering, monitoring, solar and storage to work as a whole, we can make better use of these assets, reduce costs and empower prosumers.”

Meanwhile, the state government launched its new MyPower initiative, which will charge users a higher fixed electricity price with lower variable costs.

But users who reduce peak usage will receive rebates for reducing usage during peak periods.

Consumers under the plan will have a usage target for the six warmest months during afternoon and early evening periods.

The plans will fit with Horizon Power’s existing app, according to the state government.

"We understand the challenges families face with electricity bills,” Energy Minister Ben Wyatt said.

“A payment process that provides greater certainty around their energy costs will go a long way to helping balance the family budget.

"Customers want choice and control over their energy use, and we continue to work with Horizon Power to develop technology to make this happen.

"This new system supports customers reducing their energy use, having more predictable power bills and avoiding 'bill shock'."

The Carnarvon plan follows research work undertaken in Port Hedland earlier this year.

Other regional towns have also been a testing bed for energy innovation.

One example is Onslow, where Horizon is installing a $100 million microgrid system, with a high concentration of renewable energy that is backed up by batteries.