(Australian Associated Press)
A $10 million renewable energy-powered microgrid with the potential to be the largest in the country will be developed in Western Australia’s Mid West.
The coastal town of Kalbarri is currently supplied by a 140km-long electricity line, which can be unreliable.
The microgrid project will combine wind and solar power with a large-scale battery, and will be closely observed to see how the technology could benefit other towns in WA, Energy Minister Mike Nahan says.
“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.
“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.”
Clean Energy Council director of smart energy Darren Gladman said microgrids were more cost effective, safe and secure than traditional poles and wires.
“The once-in-50-year storm in South Australia that demolished more than 20 huge electricity pylons demonstrates the vulnerability of traditional energy systems to extreme weather events,” he said.
“Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina several years ago, New York State is working on a series of microgrids like those in Kalbarri, which will increase the resilience of its electricity system.”
Western Power will seek expressions of interest from next month, with construction expected to begin in 2017.