The Western Australian Government and Western Power plan to develop an electricity microgrid to improve reliability between the Geraldton and Kalbarri communities.
WA Energy Minister, Mike Nahan, has announced that Western Power will contribute $300,000 towards a feasibility study to develop a microgrid, to support the 140km network between the regions.
“The Kalbarri microgrid will be an important test for applying technology in an innovative way to improve electricity supply for regional communities while using the network more sustainably and affordably,” Mr Nahan said.
“This is a model that could be used as a blueprint for other regional areas and help in the development of further renewable generation across the rural edges of the electricity network.”
The feasibility study is expected to take six months to complete and will consider the best way to develop an electricity system that interacts with the network to supply the town and push excess power down the line.
The smart system would be able to reverse power flows overnight when stored energy was insufficient to meet demand and disconnect from the larger network should a fault occur.
The network between Geraldton and Kalbarri serves approximately 2,000 customers but is commonly affected by extended power outages due to windborne salt and dust.
The Kalbarri microgrid is also likely to source both solar and wind-generated power.
Mr Nahan said microgrids were suited to regional areas because they could take different shapes, depending on the requirements of each community.
“It really is an exciting time in the electricity industry and these projects put WA at the forefront of the application of new technologies on a large scale.
“The Kalbarri energy project is just one of the innovative projects the Government is currently exploring to more efficiently and reliably supply electricity to rural and isolated communities.
“Other projects include Western Power’s development of a microgrid on Garden Island in partnership with Carnegie Wave Energy and its standalone power projects in the Great Southern and southern Wheatbelt, in partnership with Synergy and Horizon Power.”