Distribution networks to shrink as safety, reliability of standalone solar improves


From pv magazine Australia

In October, Boundary Power – a joint venture between West Australian government-owned Horizon Power and electrical control solutions specialist Ampcontrol – hadn’t even turned one year old when it scooped up design, innovation and manufacturing awards for its standalone power systems (SAPS).

It is currently manufacturing and deploying about 50 SAPS in remote West Australia, but in the new year it expects to jump the deserts of central Australia, cross the boundary into New South Wales and take that state’s customers at the edges of the grid by storm.

Reliability is the stand-out quality of the Boundary Power range of systems, company Director Rod Henderson tells pv magazine Australia. In October, Ampcontrol won the 2021 Hunter Manufacturing Award for Excellence in Product Design for Boundary Power’s Solar Cube, an integrated, foldout, solar-battery-generator combination that can be installed and providing electricity within 90 minutes of hitting the ground.

Henderson says that if rooftop solar in the suburbs stops working for some reason, those properties are connected to the grid. “But in the case of our standalone power supplies, they’re the only energy source those consumers have, so the right technology, the right components, the right partnerships are all-important aspects of our designs,” he said.

He also cites Horizon Power’s flexibility, as a government trading entity, to enter into a partnership with a private company as one of the true innovations behind Boundary Power.

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“You know that’s innovative thinking led by Stephanie Unwin. It makes a big difference when you’re working with people who are really on the front foot,” he says of the unique arrangement.

In 2018, when Ampcontrol was in the process of acquiring CPS National, Horizon Power was seeking to address the risks, cost and reliability of providing energy to its most far-flung customers.

After the fires in West Australia in 2015, ageing electricity infrastructure was identified as one potential spark for disaster, the cost of providing and maintaining new infrastructure at remote homesteads and agribusinesses was prohibitive, so Horizon Power investigated the viability of a renewables-led solution and found it promising.

It approached Ampcontrol, with its new CPS subsidiary, to tender for the supply of the first 17 proposed Horizon Power SAPS, but quickly decided that a separate venture combining Ampcontrol engineering expertise with Horizon Power’s energy-utility expertise and customer understanding could have a great future in the transitioning Australian energy scene.

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