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Project overview

Launched in 2017, the Smart Sun Pilot was the first Virtual Power Plant in regional Australia. 

We partnered with DevelopmentWA to explore how regional customers could connect their solar system into a microgrid, while keeping the grid stable for everyone. We’re aiming for increased grid stabilitymore regional development, easier access to renewables and lower power bills for our community.  

We also wanted to investigate how these new energy technologies can dramatically reduce household electricity bills and lower the expensive cost of infrastructure on new developments. 

We coordinated 15 homes in DevelopmentWA's Waranyjarri Estate in Broome North into an energy ‘fleet’. Each home had a solar and battery renewable energy system coupled with an energy management platform that coordinated the homes. 

 

The pilot

The pilot

For the heavily subsidised price of $5,000, each of these 15 homes had access to a subsidised renewable energy system which included: 

  • Rooftop solar panels  
  • Solar PV inverter to convert energy from the solar panels into electricity for the household 
  • Battery to store excess electricity generated by the solar panels (used when the solar panels can’t produce electricity, such as cloudy periods) 
  • Hot water heat pump as an energy efficient way of heating water, designed for WA’s harsh conditions 
  • Local energy management system to control major appliances to maximise the use of electricity from the sun, keeping down the amount of power drawn from the grid  
Read about our Smart Sun Pilot findings

What did we learn?

The benefits of battery storage

We learned that providing incentives to encourage evening discharge from battery storage systems could provide a cost-effective option to help support our network. New development property infrastructure costs could be reduced which could help to promote regional development. 

Lower development costs through ADMD

When developing new land there are connection costs involved in providing an adequate power supply – this is based on a measurement called “After Diversity Maximum Demand” (ADMD). This pilot households achieved our best-case target for ADMD, reducing development costs by 30%.  

Our pilot data supports a case for a review of design ADMD in new housing estates where there are new homes built to current building codes which could incorporate energy efficient appliances and DER orchestration.  

Managing solar PV was effective

We learned it was relatively simple to manage how solar PV was scheduled and dispatched to limit its impact on the network.

What does this mean for our community?

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This trial was very exciting.

It has been a very good lesson in how much electricity consumption we use, especially for our kids.

Horizon Power customer

Broome
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Horizon Power acknowledges the Traditional Custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders past, present and emerging.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain images, names or voices of deceased people.