Onslow in Western Australia’s Pilbara region has become the largest town in Australia to be powered by 100% renewable energy, achieving the landmark moment during a successful demonstration of the Onslow Distributed Energy Resource (DER) Project.
State-owned regional utility Horizon Power successfully powered the community, home to more than 800 people, for a total of 80 minutes with renewable energy during a trial of the microgrid late last month. The system consists of a 600 kW ground-mounted solar plant, a 700 kW rooftop array, and a battery system.
Western Australia Energy Minister Bill Johnston said the successful trial was a landmark moment in the state’s energy transition.
“The operation of the Onslow microgrid powered by 100% renewables signifies a landmark step towards building a cleaner, brighter, renewable energy future for our state,” he said.
“This innovative project demonstrates how distributed energy resources can be safely integrated at the grid level, unlocking further benefits from Western Australia’s world-leading rooftop solar uptake.”
The Onslow project, which replaced diesel- and gas-fired generators, was initiated in 2016. Stage 1 delivered a modular gas power station with 8 MW of installed capacity and associated infrastructure. Stage 2 saw the completion of a centralized 1 MW centralized solar PV farm and a 1 MWh battery storage system.
The microgrid also incorporates rooftop solar and residential batteries with the residents of the town having been incentivized to install solar and battery technology in their homes as part of the project.
The high uptake of renewables by the Onslow community enabled Horizon Power to effectively pilot the DERMS which manages the assets connected to its networks in a coordinated way.
The software solution, provided by PXiSE Energy Solutions, uses predictive analytics to maximize the amount of renewable energy in the microgrid while maintaining network stability for all customers.
The technology allowed Horizon to turn the gas generators at the power station off during the trial and power the Onslow community by coordinating the rooftop solar with the solar farm and large-scale batteries.
It is the first time a Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS) has been deployed in a remote microgrid in Australia. Further testing of the system is set to continue ahead of commissioning the project later this year.
Horizon has previously said the Onslow DER Project has brought forward a future where customers are recognized as being key to a greener energy future by helping inform the infrastructure and intelligent system controls which enable them to take a central role.
Horizon also believes the project is an ideal environment to integrate and test other energy technologies like electric vehicles and customer products and services.
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