The Western Australian Government has committed up to $10 million to improve electricity reliability in Kalbarri, constructing what could become Australia’s largest renewable energy-powered microgrid.

Western Australian Minister for Energy, Mike Nahan, said the microgrid would explore a 5MW peak capable system which would include a large-scale battery with a minimum capacity of 2MW hours, as well as renewable generation sources such as the Kalbarri wind farm, and rooftop solar on Kalbarri households.

Currently, Kalbarri, on Western Australia’s coast, has a peak of 3.7MW and is supplied by a 140km rural feeder line. However it has experienced outages due to environmental factors.

Dr Nahan said the lessons learned from this type of microgrid would be closely investigated to see how it could benefit other Western Australian towns.

“This is a game changer for regional communities who rely on power from a long feeder line, which is subject to environmental factors that can cause outages,” Dr Nahan said.

“In the event of an outage on the main feeder line that supplies electricity to Kalbarri from Geraldton, the microgrid will ensure the Kalbarri community will still have power until the fault is corrected.

“The project, which has the potential to be Australia’s biggest renewable microgrid, will consider all generation options and take into account the community’s desire for a renewable solution.”

Dr Nahan said Western Power would seek expressions of interest in December 2016.

“It is expected contracts will be in place and the project will be underway by 2017, with a commitment to have the microgrid up and running, as quickly as possible, for the people of Kalbarri,” Dr Nahan said.

In July 2016, the Western Australian Government announced six properties in regional Western Australia were trialling stand-alone power systems, made up of solar panels and battery storage.

Lauren brings a fresh approach to content. While she’s previously written for publications as diverse as Australian Geographic, The Border Watch and Girlfriend, she’s found her true passion in her current role as an editor in the world of energy and infrastructure trade magazines.

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