The Onslow microgrid project delivered by the Western Australian Government owned regional utility Horizon Power is leading the renewable energy transformation in the state with its smart technologies at work. With a goal to provide more clean and cheap electricity to its customers, the project integrates traditional thermal generation with solar PV and battery storage to maximize renewable energy penetration in the town to up to 90%.
The Onslow project was initiated in 2016 by Horizon Power, Chevron Australia, and WA state government and was completed late last year. Following Stage 1 that delivered gas-fired generation and associated infrastructure, Stage 2 saw the completion of a centralized 1 MW battery storage system and 1 MW solar farm.
On top of that, a distributed solar PV and battery pilot was announced last March delivering incentives to Horizon Power customers in Onslow to install rooftop PV and Senec batteries with the goal to test the management of renewable energy in an isolated regional community. The generous subsidies have resulted in high and rapid uptake of renewables by the Onslow community, which was essential to enable Horizon Power to effectively pilot an intelligent control system known as a Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS).
This system employs PXiSE’s Energy Solutions Microgrid Controller which allows Horizon Power to manage the assets connected to its networks in a coordinated way. For the Onslow project, the PXiSE software solution uses high-speed data from connected energy assets to simultaneously optimize renewable energy output and power quality. Lower operating costs are expected, as solar power displaces diesel generation.
The software provider says it is now successfully managing the output of the solar farm and battery in coordination with the gas power station in Onslow and is looking forward to applying its technology at a greater scale. “We look forward to the next stages of the project where, ultimately, the full management system will offer Horizon Power a more granular and comprehensive level of insight into their network,” said Andrew Todd, Chief Executive Officer, GTSgroup, a PXiSE project partner.
As agreed back in 2018, PXiSE will eventually deploy its Active Control Technology to manage up to 50,000 distributed energy resources across Horizon Power’s 2.3 million square kilometer network, allowing for both a highly granular view of grid operations as well as real-time control of rooftop solar, batteries and other distributed energy resources.
With Horizon Power operating 38 microgrids across the state, none of which are connected to the wholesale market, CEO Stephanie Unwin said the work underway in Onslow was a significant part of the state’s renewable energy transformation, building both Western Australian capability and more renewable-friendly systems for their regional communities. “The microgrid management technology is an amazing piece of technology that is new to this State and allows for the careful management of the various energy sources in the town,” Unwin said.