Horizon Power launches stage two of Onslo microgrid, Senec supplies batteries


The coastal town of Onslow is in the box seat to become the home of one of Australia’s largest distributed energy resource microgrid, which targets providing more than 50% of the town’s electricity.

The project is being delivered by Western Australia’s government-owned regional utility Horizon Power and is aiming to integrate traditional thermal generation with solar panel and battery storage systems to maximise renewable energy penetration.

Last week, the McGowan Government launched Stage Two of the Onslow project, which will deliver solar and battery storage systems to locals at reduced rates. 

Horizon Power has signed a contract with Western Australian company Mechanical Project Services (MPS) to deliver and install the solar and battery storage systems to Onslo customers. Once installed, the systems will be integrated with Horizon Power’s Distributed Energy Resources Management System, the software platform designed to orchestrate the various energy sources in a coordinated manner ensuring renewables are maximised while protecting the systems’ stability.

Horizon Power General Manager Commercial Services and Finance, Sami Zouad said the opportunity to access solar and battery systems at a reduced rate would provide Onslo customers with the ability to reduce their own electricity costs, while allowing Horizon Power to demonstrate a high-renewables energy future.

“The work in Onslow, where the sun shines up to 12 hours a day, is helping Horizon Power to prepare for this future,” Zouad said. “The project delivers on our commitment to the Onslow community and the state, to enable a significant expansion of renewable energy onto our networks which can be managed for the benefit of customers and Horizon Power.”

Stage Two of the project also includes the construction of a centralized 1 MW solar farm and 1 MWh network battery, which are due to be completed in May.

This follows the completion of Stage One of the project in July 2018, which involved the construction and commissioning of a gas-fired power station and associated infrastructure.

The Onslow project was initiated in 2016 by Horizon Power, Chevron Australia and Western Australia’s State Government, with the goal to deploy a mix of distributed renewables, modular gas powered generation and battery storage aimed at achieving a high level of renewable energy across the town.  Under its State Development Agreement, Chevron’s massive Wheatstone LNG project has provided a financial contribution for Horizon Power to build the power infrastructure for both stages.

Batteries at generous discounts

Horizon Power has selected Germany’s Senec to equip the project with smart battery storage systems for the optimal use of solar power and local network support.  As part of the project that seeks to demonstrate that Onslow can sustainably and reliably be supplied with clean electricity in conjunction with larger traditional and utility scale renewable generation plants, as well as the intelligent control of the microgrid, Senec’s energy storage systems will be offered at generous discounts.  

The storage provider said the ability to integrate its batteries with Horizon Power’s DERMS played an important role in Senec’s selection. The commitment to local engineering and technical support was an important criterion for Horizon Power in selecting the partner.

“Each of Senec’s batteries will be integrated with Horizon Power’s DERMS, the centralized control system that will “orchestrate” DER at times when intelligent control is required to maintain reliability of the microgrid,” the storage provider said in statement.

Ian Parkinson, Managing Director of Senec Australia said customer-side solar power and storage was a perfect solution for communities like Onslow, a sunny coastal town in the sparsely populated Pilbara region. “We are delighted we can help to ensure people have a reliable and sustainable power supply there”, he said. “While at the same time, we are demonstrating our know-how and commitment to the Australian market.”

Only weeks before Senec’s first shipment of residential batteries arrived in Australia last year, the battery provider was acquired by Energie Baden-Württemberg (EnBW), one of Germany’s ‘big three’ utilities.

The company’s units, modified slightly from the ones sold in Germany, are available with a capacity ranging from 2.5 kWh to 10 kWh.

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