Many of Horizon Power’s projects are at the forefront of developing solutions to complex challenges faced by the global energy industry. The investments Horizon Power are making and the risks being taken to achieve its vision of being the world’s best microgrid company was recognised when it was jointly awarded Digital Utility of the Year at the 2018 Digital Utility Awards. Here, we take a closer look at how Horizon Power is staying ahead of rapid industry changes.Horizon Power has recognised the importance of the shift driven by both consumers and technology and are striving to help customers navigate a new energy landscape in a way that benefits them and the network business.

Managing Director of Horizon Power, Frank Tudor, said the award was a fantastic acknowledgement of its transformation from a purely energy-focused utility, to a technology-focused energy utility.

“A great deal of work has been done – and is still being done – across our organisation to make a successful digital transformation, so it’s great for everyone at Horizon Power to be recognised in this way.”

Advancing microgrid developments

“We are focused on resolving economic, technical and transition barriers to a Distributed Energy Resource (DER) future through the development of new technologies, capabilities and operating practices,” Mr Tudor said.

“We have developed new business units to achieve this – with a specific focus on developing microgrids, and providing more tools for customers which draw on the data we are able to receive as a vertically-integrated utility that generates, distributes and retails electricity with the help of advanced meters.”

Horizon Power’s Advanced Microgrid Development division is using data and analytics to create technical solutions and automated control systems that will transform microgrids into ‘advanced microgrids’.

“Advanced microgrids are created using state-of-the-art technology, and push the boundaries of what is possible using DER,” Mr Tudor said.

“Creating and operating a suite of advanced microgrids will establish WA as a leader in energy innovation, bring companies and investment into the state, and create business opportunities for our organisation. Exploring these commercial opportunities is the division’s future focus.”

This division is responsible for the Carnarvon DER trials and for implementing a new DER management system.

“The Carnarvon trials will continue to investigate, and aim to overcome, the technical and operational constraints associated with a high penetration of DER on our remote networks,” Mr Tudor said.

“In the future, the DER management system will ensure power reliability is not compromised by high amounts of DER – increasing customer choice and lowering operating costs. Both of these initiatives feed into our flagship project in the Pilbara town of Onslow.

“Our work in the Pilbara town of Onslow is redefining how electricity will be delivered in the future. The aim is that by next year, Onslow will be the home of Australia’s largest DER microgrid, with a high percentage of the town’s electricity needs being serviced by renewable energy.”

The DER microgrid will include:

  • A gas-fired modular power station that is designed to be able to efficiently contract in size as the renewable energy contribution increases, or expand to meet future growth requirements
  • A new transmission line, zone substation and distribution network extension
  • A one megawatt solar farm adjacent the new power station
  • A bulk energy storage system at the zone substation distributed solar panels and batteries across the system
  • An advanced control system that will enable a high level of renewable penetration

Advanced microgrids incorporating high levels of DER are intelligent networks that can easily have smart appliances and digital technologies integrated with them.

This type of microgrid provides Onslow customers with more reliable and affordable electricity, access to higher levels of renewable energy, a reduction in their carbon footprint, reduced noise from traditional generation sources, and greater control and independence over their energy consumption.

Power to the customers

Another innovation for Horizon Power is a new pricing product, MyPower, which is structured like a mobile phone plan and gives pricing signals to customers that are more reflective of their impact on the cost of supply, along with the tools required for managing their consumption.

The app is an innovative program and a new way of charging for electricity in Australia.

“Our app is another first for this country, as it provides customers with access to their consumption data in near real time, thanks to our advanced meters,” Mr Tudor said.

“Having access to this data gives customers more control and builds awareness around their consumption, helping them make changes and save money. These two initiatives are helping to reduce peak demand and give customers more options in the way they interact with their electricity accounts.”

The Digital Utility Awards will return early 2019. Stay up-to-date with the Digital Utilities newsletter to find out more about this year’s winners and finalists and receive updates about entering in next year’s awards. 

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