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Australia’s largest renewable energy microgrid powers ahead

The Pilbara town of Onslow is set to become the home of Australia’s largest energy microgrid with the awarding of major renewables-focused infrastructure contracts.

Horizon Power recently received State Government approval to progress the next phase of its distributed energy resources (DER) project in Onslow which will provide the town with a high level of renewable energy to meet their electricity needs.

The initial part of the project which includes a new gas fired power station is nearing completion and this new infrastructure is providing the platform for the next phase of the project, which includes the development of a large solar farm and battery storage system.

Under its State Development Agreement, the Chevron-operated Wheatstone Project has provided a substantial financial contribution for Horizon Power to build the power infrastructure for both project stages.

The solar farm contract has been awarded to Complete Power Systems (CPS) National, with the farm to be located adjacent to the new power station approximately 18 km from town and designed to harness solar energy – saving money spent on fuel and maintenance at the power station.

To optimise the use of renewables in the town, a utility-scale battery will be built and installed by Contract Power Australia within Horizon Power’s new zone substation about 3 km from the town centre.

The battery will be available to help manage events such as overcast conditions and peak electricity demand, ensuring a smooth supply of power to the Onslow community.

Horizon Power Managing Director Frank Tudor explained the significance of the project to the State’s energy future.

“This is demonstrating our capacity to deliver the safe and reliable integration of renewable energy into our existing systems throughout regional and remote Western Australia,” Mr Tudor said.

“Together with these central energy assets, we’re also developing technology and infrastructure platforms to ultimately enable our customers to easily and efficiently connect, generate, store and sell their own electricity.

“Our DER microgrids will deliver more affordable and sustainable electricity to communities, giving customers more choice over how they receive their energy and greater ability to lower their power bills.”

Completion of the solar farm and battery storage is expected in the first half of 2019.

Fact File

  • Distributed energy resources are a variety of small, grid-connected electrical generation and storage devices.
  • The Chevron-operated Wheatstone Project has contributed more than $250million to social and critical infrastructure projects in Onslow including health, recreation and utilities
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