30/09/2016 - 13:39

Renewable shift for Onslow

30/09/2016 - 13:39

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More than half of the electricity used in the Pilbara town of Onslow will be sourced from renewable sources by 2020, with the state government today announcing it will be home to Australia’s largest distributed generation microgrid.

Renewable shift for Onslow
Mike Nahan says Onslow will be home to the nation's largest distributed energy microgrid.

More than half of the electricity used in the Pilbara town of Onslow will be sourced from renewable sources by 2020, with the state government today announcing it will be home to Australia’s largest distributed generation microgrid.

A 5.25-megawatt gas powered modular station will underpin the new network, while new infrastructure including transmission lines will also be constructed.

According to documents in the May budget, the state government had anticipated spending $105 million on a gas-fired facility at Onslow, funded by Chevron as part of a series of commitments in the company’s state agreement for the Wheatstone project.

Work on the gas fired component will get under way early next year, with the power station expected to be finished in early 2018.

Horizon expects the solar farm to be complete by January 2019, while other distributed sources will be installed from 2017 to 2020.

Energy Minister Mike Nahan said the project would connect traditional energy sources with solar power and battery storage.

“This will be Australia’s largest distributed energy microgrid, creating a new era of energy competition and efficiency for households and businesses,” he said.

“The development of a renewable energy microgrid in Onslow is another great example of how the state government, by partnering with industry, is leading the way in renewable energy.

“Onslow was a very sleepy worn out little village of 600 people, it’s now going to grow to 2,000, and as part of the (Wheatstone) project, Chevron, the project proponent agreed to put a new power station in at $106 million of 9MW.

“It got delayed a bit for regions of the project.

Horizon Power and the government decided to have another go at it, we decided to step back and see if we could adopt new technologies.

“What we’ve done is come back, and credit to Chevron for agreeing to do this ... we will have a small 5MW component for gas, we will have a battery and we will expand solar."

Dr Nahan said he hoped it the Onslow microgrid would eventually be 70 per cent renewable.

State Development Minister Bill Marmion said the state government and Chevron had revisited the approach they had originally negotiated in the 2011 state agreement thanks to technological advances.

That agreement had originally had Chevron constructing the power station entirely itself.

“The state government, Horizon Power and Chevron agree the redesign of the gas-fired modular power station is the best way to integrate with the latest renewable energy technology and ensure a more sustainable energy supply,” Mr Marmion said.

“As part of its obligations under the state development agreement, Chevron will provide a financial contribution for Horizon Power to build the power infrastructure.”

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