15/03/2018 - 15:01

Plan for 60 standalone power systems

15/03/2018 - 15:01

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Batteries and solar panels will be rolled out at 60 locations on the edge of the state’s electricity grid throughout the Wheatbelt and Goldfields as part of a plan to improve reliability and cut capital costs across the Western Power network.

Plan for 60 standalone power systems
Energy Minister Ben Wyatt says it is a challenge to deliver safe, efficient and reliable power to rural areas. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Batteries and solar panels will be rolled out at 60 locations on the edge of the state’s electricity grid throughout the Wheatbelt and Goldfields as part of a plan to improve reliability and cut capital costs across the Western Power network.

Up to 60 standalone power systems will be supplied to farming businesses under the program, to be installed and operational in 2019.

It follows six such systems being trialled on properties in the Great Southern in 2017.

Following that trial, customers avoided about 65 hours of outages, according to Western Power, and most electricity was generated by solar panels.

Customers on the edge of the grid face problems with service reliability as they often may have only one very long power line connect them into the network.

Those lines come with a high capital cost.

The move is in addition to an ongoing trend towards microgrids, small networks that can disconnect from the general grid, that are being rolled out across WA.

One example is in Kalbarri, where the town of about 1,300 will have a 4.5-megawatt hour battery installed with renewables, announced in 2016.

The town is at the end of a very long feeder line from Geraldton, about 140 kilometres, which would be expensive to maintain or replace.

It also means the town suffers from outages.

In Onslow, a microgrid is being built with a gas powered modular generator, solar panels and a battery.

Energy Minister Ben Wyatt said it was a challenge to deliver safe, efficient and reliable power to rural areas.

“Long stretches of power lines are at the mercy of wind, rain, vegetation, lightning and bushfires,” he said.

“As a government-owned utility, Western Power is actively seeking ways to improve reliability for all customers.

"The adoption of new and advanced technologies also opens the door for new skills across the energy sector and the potential for new jobs.”

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