Integrating Distributed Energy Resources
Horizon Power's plan to deliver cleaner and sustainable renewable energy for regional WA
Across Western Australia the uptake of rooftop solar has increased rapidly. However, as we integrate higher levels of renewable energy, we need to carefully manage the electricity system to ensure these changes do not impact the stability and reliability of the power supply to everyone. With State Government support, Horizon Power is working with local communities to co-design ways to transition our traditional electricity systems towards reliable and affordable energy solutions.
The reasons are simple – we all know sustainable energy is the right thing to do for the planet, and it’s also the right thing to do for regional WA. By embracing innovative technologies and connecting higher levels of renewable energy, such as solar farms, rooftop solar and storage, we can deliver more affordable and sustainable electricity to our customers.
It’s a bold move, and it’s not without some big challenges, which is why we’re completing a number of technical trials and pilots throughout the state to make sure we’re delivering proven solutions that will deliver affordable power to our customers.
What is the DER Roadmap?
The WA Government has developed a five year energy road map that will enable WA to further increase solar uptake and integrate other new, innovative technologies.
The DER Roadmap aims to transition WA to a smart, flexible and integrated electricity system that can:
- reduce power system costs, and put downwards pressure on electricity bills;
- use more renewable energy, reduce emissions and contribute to a cleaner energy future;
- enjoy the benefits of solar without risk to the stability of the power system; and
- develop energy systems with more customer choice.
Horizon Power is committed to supporting the Roadmap and finding long-term, sustainable energy solutions for our customers.
Watch the video or visit the Brighter Energy Future website to learn more about the DER Roadmap.
How renewable energy impacts the electricity network
Compared to the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) which has a greater capacity to accommodate rooftop solar, our microgrid systems are much smaller and therefore more sensitive to the impact of connecting renewables.
Electricity systems were originally built for one way power flow, where electricity is generated from a central source. Connecting rooftop solar introduces two way power flow, where solar energy systems can send excess solar energy back into the electricity grid. When too many additional renewable energy sources are connected to the grid, it can impact the stability and reliability of the network.
This is why we have a limit on how much rooftop solar can be connected to each of our grids, and why these limits change for each town.
We’ve already had some big wins. In July 2019, following an extensive technical review, we released an additional 10 megawatts of solar capacity across our regional networks, allowing hundreds of customers to connect rooftop solar.
We will continue to find solutions that further increase solar capacity limits in our towns, so more customers can benefit from cleaner, sustainable energy.
Leading the way in energy management trials
To help accelerate the upgrade of our grids, we’re progressing with exciting new energy management technology trials and pilots that have the potential to connect higher levels of renewable energy into our microgrid systems.
These are all running in partnership with local customers and business across the state, and include:
Broome Smart Sun Pilot
This Pilot is helping us build individual virtual power plants for home owners, where their rooftop solar generation, battery energy storage and home appliances communicate with each other to automatically optimise usage and reduce customer energy costs. Run in partnership with Development WA and a number of homeowners in the Waranyjarri Estate in Broome’s North, we are currently monitoring real-time electricity usage in a number of homes and expect findings to help us increase rooftop solar capacity limits, reduce the system pressure caused by peak demand and deliver big savings for households.
Onslow Distributed Energy Resources Management System (DERMS)
DERMS is an intelligent software-based system that allows us to communicate with, and manage, the flow of solar energy into our grids. We’ve been working in partnership with Onslow residents and businesses to strategically connect them to rooftop solar above the network’s technical capacity and use DERMS to monitor and when required, control electricity supply to ensure network stability and avoid outages. The data we are gathering is helping us to adapt DERMS to be more effective in helping address the existing safety and operational challenges, as well as resolve energy affordability challenges for our customers.
Carnarvon DER trials
One of the biggest challenges with renewables is weather variability and how weather events, such as cloud movements, can impact solar electricity generation. So we’re working with a group of Carnarvon customers, in partnership with Murdoch University and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, to proactively overcome this variability and ensure the reliability of our renewable energy supply. This three year trial involves analysing vast amounts of data from solar, battery, weather and power station performance, and network operations to design intelligent solutions that ensure optimal electricity generation, no matter the weather.
Projects & trials
Learn more about some of the projects & trials we have underway across regional Western Australia.
Where to next?
We are committed to delivering sustainable renewable energy as a cleaner and lower cost source of electricity generation.
The results of trials and pilots like these continue to inform our strategy and shape the future of renewable energy delivery in regional WA. We’ll continue to work with local communities to share results, ideas and technologies so we can deliver the best energy systems with the biggest benefits to regional WA.
The future is bright and we’re looking forward to staying connected.
Visit the Brighter Energy Future website to learn more.