Horizon Power taps SwitchDin to supply Secure Gateway Devices for solar, storage customers

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The ability to monitor and control rooftop solar and battery storage arrays, along with certain flexible electricity loads, can allow for higher penetration levels. On small and isolated grids, the threshold at which distributed energy resources like rooftop PV can be problematic for grid operation is lower, making this ability all the more important for electricity network operators.

Horizon Power is deploying SGD technology to meet this challenge in the town of Onlsow, in the northwest of Western Australia. And it’s turned to an Australian technology provider for the solution.

New South Wales-based SwitchDin announced today that it had been selected to provide SGDs for all new households and businesses that install a solar PV or battery storage system in and around Onslo, under a three-year deal.

Horizon is already in the process of developing a microgrid to supply Onslow. Stage Two of the project was launched in March of this year. The project involves installing a 1 MW solar array, 1 MWh battery system and a modular gas generator. Additionally, households with solar PV are being equipment with battery systems, supplied by Senec. WA-based Mechanical Project Services is carrying out the installation.

Horizon acts as both utility and network operator in WA outside of the states more populous southwest, and has been active in enabling the installation of solar PV in the towns and communities that it services. Distributed generation assets like solar and storage can frequently supply power to remote and regional communities far more cheaply than centralized generation – making their installation both win-win for consumers and for Horizon itself. Horizon is state owned and is subsidized by the WA state government.

SwitchDin says that its SGDs can provide both aggregate monitoring and control of rooftop PV and battery storage systems via its Stormcloud software platform. It can also provide some control of electricity consuming devices – such as air conditioners and EV chargers.

“SwitchDin’s SGD will provide feed-in management, demand management and battery management capability for individual sites, said SwitchDin CEO Andrew Mears in a statement. “It will provide Horizon Power with the ability to orchestrate these resources to maximise system-wide efficiency.

“The SGDs are highly secure, physically durable and versatile energy management systems. With an independent communications channel for utilities it provides an all-round robust arrangement for utility-grade deployments.”

As a third-party or technology agnostic supplier of SGDs, SwitchDin can facilitate virtual power plant (VPP) implementation with a wide array or solar inverters or battery storage providers. It claims to integrate with “most PV inverter and battery storage products.” In this way, it can call on batteries to charge from the grid or rooftop solar systems during times of excess supply or discharge into the grid when supply is constrained.

Some electricity loads, particularly those enabled for demand response, such as some air conditioners, electric water heaters or EV chargers, can also be called to reduce power consumption during peak electricity demand. SwitchDin says its SGDs and Stormcloud software can facility this functions also.

The Horizon announcement was timed to coincide with a workshop on WA’s distributed energy resources in Perth today. The state government is formulating a Distributed Energy Resources Roadmap, in consultation with the solar and energy industry, to facilitate PV uptake, while maintaining grid strength and security of electricity supply. The roadmap is set to be completed by the end of 2019.