Another WA town transitions to solar and batteries


Cue has become the fourth regional Western Australian town to receive a centralised solar farm and battery storage as the state government-owned utility Horizon Power rolls out a program to reduce remote towns’ dependence on diesel.

Cue’s 259 kW of solar farm and 336 kWh battery is now operational following the successful completion of reliability testing, Horizon Power has said. Similar, though differently sized, systems are already in operations in Wiluna, Yalgoo and Sandstone.

Sandstone solar farm and battery.

Image: Pacific Energy

The program is expected to reduce 2,100 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and save around $900,000 per annum.*

Norseman in the state’s Goldfield region and Meekatharra in the state’s midwest are expected to have similar systems installed in early 2024.

The Cue project was delivered in partnership with contractor Pacific Energy. Pacific have been working with the state’s other government-owned utility Western Power to roll out standalone power systems.

Western Power is rolling out standalone power systems across the state.

Image; Western Power

Both Western and Horizon Power have been working with standalone power systems (SPS) within the state’s islanded grids to decrease maintenance costs and increase rural power reliability. These systems primarily run on solar and batteries, and although they also still include backup diesel generators. However, the systems are sized to maximise renewables generation, with Western Power targeting 90% and Horizon Power 80% to 90%. The SPS are owned, monitored, and serviced by utility, which sells the electricity back to customers at their previous grid rate.

These standalone systems are mainly delivered to individual farms, but Horizon Power’s Midwest Solar Program, along with other microgrid projects, illustrate that the company is looking to scale similar concept systems up to encompass regional towns.

The state’s standalone power system rollout has, to date, been highly successful in terms of overall costs, decarbonisation, and customer satisfaction. 

It is hoped that the rollout will completely reconfigure the state’s unruly grid over the next decade. That is, instead of a vulnerable and hard to manage interconnected system, the state will move towards thousands of decentralised off-grid systems based on renewable generation and storage.

* This article was amended on November 29 to clarify that Cue had not “switched” to solar and batteries, but had rather reduced its reliance on diesel via the system.

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