Renewable energy in Onslow
Onslow will soon become the site of Australia’s largest distributed energy microgrid, following the announcement of a new project that aims to eventually deliver more than 50 per cent of the town’s electricity needs with renewable energy.
Minister for Energy Mike Nahan made the announcement at a function in Onslow last Friday and described the new grid as consisting of a mix of a 5.25 megawatt gas-fired modular power station, distributed solar energy generation and battery storage.
“This will be Australia’s largest distributed energy microgrid, creating a new era of energy competition and efficiency for households and businesses,” he said.
Dr Nahan said the idea for the microgrid had arisen out of a long-term plan to phase out the existing but now insufficient Chevron power plant in Onslow, when the State government had seen the opportunity to incorporate more renewable forms of energy into the project.
“We are hoping to have up to 70 per cent of the energy eventually coming from solar,” he said.
He said it was “a bit of luck” the project was being piloted in Onslow and it was an experimental project Horizon Power would use lessons from in other places.
The $106 million project is being funded by the Chevron-operated Wheatstone project and State government as part of their State Development Agreement, and will be implemented by Horizon Power.
Horizon Power managing director Frank Tudor said the company had been asked to “start down this path” about two to three years ago, based on their microgrid technology in remote areas across the State and existing relationships in those communities.
Minister for State Development Bill Marmion said all major parties agreed the redesign of the power station was the best way to integrate new renewable energy technology and ensure a more sustainable energy supply.
Dr Nahan said the project was expected to provide local jobs and would lead the way for more projects in the future.
Work is set to start in early 2017.