ARENA grants $1.9 million for distributed energy trials in WA

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A pilot project by Horizon Power, a State Government-owned power company, to trial distributed energy systems in Carnarvon, Western Australia, has been financially underpinned by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) with $1.9 million.

As part of the project, whose total value stands at $7.1 million, Horizon Power will trial a variety of behind-the-meter distributed energy systems, including ‘internet of things’ energy metering, rooftop solar, household battery storage and inverters with remote monitoring and control devices, and weather forecast devices.

As the number of prosumers seeking to hedge against electricity price hikes steeply increases, motivated by both bill shock and solar PV cost nosedive, the three year trial aims to overcome the technical and commercial barriers they are facing and reduce the cost of distributed energy systems by up to 25%.

Moreover, the project will test the commercial viability of delivering high penetration distributed renewable energy to regional off-grid towns, facilitating increasing renewables in existing microgrids.

“These trials of distributed energy systems will explore the most cost-effective way of designing and managing a future grid. If we can resolve the technical and cost barriers of distributed energy systems and get metering, monitoring, solar and storage to work as a whole, we can make better use of these assets, reduce costs and empower prosumers,” ARENA Chief Executive Officer Ivor Frischknecht said, adding that the pilot project is the first of a series of trials that Horizon plans to undertake.

The coastal town of Carnarvon has more reasons to rejoice, as earlier this year it welcomed the state’s first utility-scale energy storage capable of delivering up to 2 MWh of power.

Today, WA Energy Minister Ben Wyatt has toured the two 1000kW battery units, which are being trailed by Horizon Power at the 170 MW Mungullah Power Station.

“This project is an excellent example of the collaboration between the State Government and industry to deliver innovative and renewable solutions for the community in the long-term,“ said WA Energy Minister Ben Wyatt.

During the twelve month trial, the batteries will primarily be used as an alternative to fossil-fuel generated spinning reserve.

It is expected that the project will result in hundreds of thousands of dollars of savings in fuel and maintenance costs, as well as help Horizon Power determine how to optimise the utilisation of battery technology to further its microgrid capabilities.