The Pilbara town of Onslow is leading the renewable energy transformation in Western Australia with the successful commissioning of a 1MW solar farm and 1MW battery to provide cleaner, greener electricity to the town.

Horizon Power has reached a number of milestones on the Onslow Distributed Energy Resources project, including the passing of reliability testing of the recently-commissioned solar farm and battery, and the first stage of an intelligent control system, which ensures the increased renewables integrate effectively with the power system when operational.

The microgrid control technology is delivered using an innovative software platform which has been designed to manage the renewable energy sources in a coordinated way.

The controller reduces power fluctuations, increases power quality and coordinates power generation from the power station with the solar farm and battery.

The solar and natural gas-powered microgrid received a significant financial contribution from Chevron Australia, which has invested more than $250 million in social and critical infrastructure in the community of Onslow as part of its State Development Agreement.

Horizon Power built an 8MW gas-fired power station in Onslow which was commissioned in 2018, and it has delivered the solar farm and battery in 2019.

The battery stores excess renewable energy from the solar farm and uses that energy to support the system during cloud events or other system disturbances.

This integration allows the power station to run reliably and efficiently, reducing the need to run the gas generators, and therefore reducing the utility’s carbon footprint.

Onslow customers have also been incentivised to install solar and battery at their homes as part of the project, which tests the management of renewable energy in an isolated regional community.

Horizon Power Chief Executive Officer, Stephanie Unwin, said the work underway in Onslow was a significant part of the state’s renewable energy transformation, building both Western Australian capability and more renewable-friendly systems for regional communities.

“The benefit to the community from this stage of the project is more reliable, cleaner and greener power through the incorporation of utility-grade solar and battery assets into the power infrastructure,” Ms Unwin said.

“The microgrid management technology is an amazing piece of technology that is new to this state and allows for the careful management of the various energy sources in the town.”

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

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