Of the promised $259 million package on offer if the McGowan Labor Government is re-elected in March, $218 million has been set aside to manufacture and install more than 1,000 standalone power systems in regional WA over the next five years.
Stand-alone power systems (SAPS) which consist of a solar array, battery and back-up generator, have proven wildly successful in WA, where the state-government-owned energy suppliers, Western Power and Horizon Power, have already transitioned 52 properties throughout the Mid West, Goldfields, eastern Wheatbelt and Great Southern regions to SAPS. It calculates that even with servicing the systems throughout their expected life cycle, the utility will save $6 million dollars on not having to refurbish the network to ensure reliability of supply to those properties.
Given the success of the trials and Phase One rollout, the Government plans to continue to monopolise on the solution, which is becoming increasingly refined.
The additional 1000 systems will be installed in regional properties and in remote Aboriginal communities, and are intended to reduce the reliance on diesel as well as stabilise networks.
Crucially, the program will be declared a “Strategic Project” under the WA Jobs Act, a bid to support local manufacturing. “The commitment of more than 1,000 standalone power systems will create a baseline demand for locally manufactured power systems, including solar panels, batteries and hydrogen electrolysers – driving hundreds of local manufacturing jobs and putting WA at the forefront of high-tech industries,” the Governments statement said.
An additional $10 million is to be invested in wind turbine manufacturing, specifically supporting the development of a WA-based industry. Any future wind farm projects undertaken by government trading enterprises will be classified as a “Strategic Project” under the WA Jobs Act, prioritising local manufacturing.
The Government has also promised $15 million for a Carbon Innovation Grants program to fund research and innovative trials to increase carbon sequestration, capture, utilisation and storage. A further $1 million will be devoted to funding research into the viability of local and environmentally sustainable processing of iron ore to create green steel.
Again following where there is already momentum, the Labor Government has promised to establish a “small energy industry development team” to work with local renewable energy manufacturers and the mining industry to accelerate the transition to renewables on remote mine sites.
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