Broome community batteries to unlock 1.4MW of solar hosting capacity


Western Australian regional utility Horizon Power is progressing plans to commission a 1.6MW/1.1MWh battery energy storage solution in Broome, paving the way for more rooftop solar PV to be installed in the remote Kimberley township.

Despite being blessed with high solar irradiance, Broome has been plagued by a fragile grid. Current hosting capacity constraints limit how much rooftop solar Broome’s electricity network can accommodate without disrupting supply.

Horizon said the new energy storage solution means excess energy generated by rooftop solar would be absorbed by the batteries, which will simultaneously smooth the flow of energy back into the network. This will ensure reliability of power supply and allow for a greater uptake of rooftop solar.

The Broome batteries are expected to free up an additional 1.4MW of hosting capacity. It is expected 1100kW will be made available to businesses, with the remaining 300kW going to residential customers.

The allocation is likely to be snapped up quickly with residents in the town demonstrating a hunger for solar power. In July 2021, 900kW of new solar hosting capacity was made available to Broome residential customers. The allocation was exhausted in less than 12 hours.

Horizon said in an emailed statement that site works for the energy storage solution have already commenced. Applications for rooftop solar are due to open at the end of the month and the batteries are expected to be providing benefits to the community by the end of April.

Perth-based service provider Blue Tongue Energy (BT Energy) has been awarded the contract to supply and install the batteries. Four 400kW/279kWh mtu EnergyPack battery energy storage systems sourced from UK-based manufacturer Rolls-Royce will be deployed across two sites in Broome.

The first of the MTU EnergyPacks have arrived at BT Energy’s testing facility in Perth.

Image: BT Energy

BT Energy last week confirmed it had received shipment of the first of the batteries and testing had begun.

“Sites works are well underway in the northwest of the state and the first battery system has arrived from Europe,” the company said in a social media post.

BT Energy said the batteries will undergo Integrated Functional Acceptance Testing (FAT) on a simulated grid at the company’s temporary test facility in the Perth suburb of Malaga. Once that is complete the energy storage systems will be transported to site where they will undergo Site Acceptance Testing (SAT) before commissioning and handover.

While the Broome batteries will facilitate the uptake of rooftop solar in Broome, Horizon said they will also provide a solar smoothing service to customers with systems over 30kW, eliminating barriers for commercial customers to connect solar by providing frequency support to the network.

Horizon customer experience general manager Krystal Skinner said batteries add significant cost to solar installations and require additional hardware to be installed at the customers premises.

“For a fixed daily fee, Broome customers will now be able to access Horizon Power’s community battery to provide solar smoothing instead,” she said.

“This new customer solution will make it easier for businesses to access solar energy by providing a cost-effective alternative to installing an onsite smoothing battery, removing the need for upfront costs, the land required, and the ongoing safety and maintenance commitments.”

The community batteries are a part of Horizon’s $75 million Renew the Regions program, which will also see community battery energy storage systems installed in Derby, Carnarvon, Yungngora and Exmouth by the end of 2022.

The program has already delivered a 582kW/583kWh community battery in the East Pilbara town of Marble Bar while systems in Wiluna and Yalgoo were also commissioned late last year.

The program aims to free up around 10MW of hosting capacity across the nominated towns, providing more than 3,000 households across regional WA with the ability to connect their systems.

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