Horizon on hunt for renewable solutions for Kimberley communities


Horizon Power is calling for expressions of interest (EOI) from contractors interested in entering into long-term power purchase agreements (PPA) to supply the electricity requirements of more than 10,000 of its customers in the Kimberley from 2027.

The Western Australian government-owned utility said it is looking to secure long-term electricity supply solutions, featuring “high-penetration renewables”, to meet the electricity requirements of its customers in the towns of Broome, Derby, Halls Creek, Fitzroy Crossing and Looma-Camballin.

The Kimberley Future Energy System project will require the delivery of significant energy infrastructure in the Kimberley region with the request for tender (RFT) documents calling for a minimum generation capacity of more than 9,000 kWh across the five systems.

Horizon said EOI participants are to illustrate the extent to which they can provide the lowest cost electricity supply solution that maximises renewable energy penetration including solar, wind, hydrogen and battery energy storage.

The power utility highlighted that it would exclude solutions that utilise fossil fuel generation as the primary source of electricity generation as it seeks to achieve renewable energy guarantees for each of the five towns.

For Broome and Derby, the biggest markets, this guarantee is for at least 80% renewable energy. The minimum renewable energy generation supply the smallest of the towns, Looma-Camballin, is 44%, while Fitzroy Crossing must have access to at least 45% renewables, and Halls Creek 55%.

Horizon said the supply period is to commence in late 2027 with the PPA to comprise a 20-year term with two five-year extension options exercisable at Horizon’s discretion.

The successful contractors will build, own and operate the power facilities with Horizon indicating it will secure appropriate sites for the projects.

The EOI is due to close on 24 July 2024 with participants to be notified of the outcomes by the end of September 2024.

Martin Pritchard, director of strategy at environmental organisation Environs Kimberley, said the power project would be a boon for Kimberley communities.

“This is a breakthrough for the Kimberley region,” he said. “After years of watching LNG being trucked up to Broome from the Pilbara and burnt in the local gas-fired power station to supply the bulk of Broome’s electricity and seeing diesel generators relied on in the other towns, we are at last seeing the transition away from dirty, expensive fossil fuels to clean, lower-cost renewable energy.”

Pritchard said the transition to renewables as outlined in the RFT documents was a sensible option for the region.

“In a region with as much sun as the Kimberley has, it is a no-brainer to switch to a largely renewable grid,” he said. “We also welcome the requirement in the RFT documents that participants ‘exclude electricity supply solutions that utilise fossil fuel generation as the primary source of electricity generation.”

The Kimberley Future Energy System project follows on from Horizon’s Midwest Centralised Solar Project which is delivering solar and battery energy storage systems in the towns of Cue, Sandstone, Meekatharra, Wiluna, Yalgoo and Norseman.

A 259 kW of solar farm and 336 kWh battery energy storage system was powered up in Cue in late 2023 with similar systems having already commenced in operations in Wiluna, Yalgoo and Sandstone.

Meekatharra and Norseman in the state’s Goldfield region are expected to have similar systems installed this year.

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