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Onslow Renewable Energy Pilot

Discounted solar PV and battery systems offered as part of Horizon Power’s Renewable Energy Pilot are no longer available for purchase.

The pilot has involved Horizon Power selling generously incentivised solar PV panels and batteries to residential and small business customers in Onslow, as part of the project which tests the management of renewable energy in an isolated regional community.

The work in Onslow is helping Horizon Power demonstrate, and prepare for a renewable energy future, by enabling the significant expansion of how much renewable energy we can allow onto our networks and how the network impacts of high-renewable penetration can be managed for the benefit of customer and Horizon Power.

Onslow solar customers

Customers who have purchased a solar product during the Pilot will continue to receive ongoing product support from Mechanical Project Services (MPS) in line with their warranty.

Please contact MPS directly on 08 6500 1530.

Installing solar

Horizon Power is committed to incorporating renewable energy into its microgrids.
Increasing the amount of renewable energy on the electricity network is a key driver for Horizon Power to explore ways to provide its customers with greater choice and control over their energy bills.

In many of the regional towns, there is limited capacity to install additional rooftop solar because it can impact the reliability of power supplies and stability of the network. Technology trials like Onslow, allow us to connect and manage renewable energy systems for our communities, to potentially enable us to incorporate higher levels of renewables in the future.

Find out more about solar

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Renewable energy is a cleaner and increasingly cheaper source of electricity generation. For customers, rooftop solar has become very popular, helping to save money on electricity bills.

Our electricity networks were designed and built for one-way flow of electricity - from central power stations to customer homes along poles and wires or underground power cables such as in Onslow. Rooftop solar introduces a flow of electricity back into the electricity system, and if we get too much solar energy it can flow all the way back to the power station, causing power quality issues, and even causing the power station to stop working or blackout.

The second problem is that solar energy is ‘intermittent’. This means that when a cloud blocks out the sun, rooftop solar energy is suddenly lost and can cause power generators at the central power station to struggle to meet the sudden spike in demand for electricity, causing damage to the electricity network and a loss of power or blackouts to homes and businesses.
We understand that rooftop solar helps our customers save on their electricity bills and helps the environment. However, many of Horizon Power’s customers in other towns cannot connect rooftop solar until we solve these problems which is the focus of the Onslow Renewable Energy Pilot.

Onslow is a world-first demonstration project. With your help, our goal is to connect and safely and reliably manage as much rooftop solar as possible, to show how we can overcome the challenges of too much solar on a traditional electricity network. We will do this by using an intelligent management system known as a DERMS (distributed energy resource management system).

Horizon Power provided a generous financial incentive to customers to purchase and connect rooftop solar in Onslow, so we can safely prove we can manage a much higher volume of renewable energy. When we are successful, this will help safely increase the volume of rooftop solar connections across WA, ultimately helping other families reduce their ongoing electricity bills.

Traditionally, the Onslow electricity network could safely connect about 850kWs of rooftop solar before we experience power supply issues. This is only the equivalent of about 100 residential rooftop systems and some small to medium business rooftop solar systems. The Onslow Pilot is now connecting around three times that amount of customers. As a Pilot participant, you are helping us to solve the challenge as we use our distributed energy resource management system (DERMS) and the Secure Gateway Device to manage excess solar output from time to time.

A small electrical box called a Secure Gateway Device (SGD) was installed as part of your rooftop solar system. This device is required as part of meeting Horizon Power’s technical rules for connecting rooftop solar systems to the electricity network. The secure gateway device provides a communications link between your rooftop solar system and Horizon Power’s distributed energy resource management system (DERMS) and helps ensure the stability of the Onslow electricity network during times of high solar generation and low customer demand for electricity.

During the cooler months, not as much electricity is used by appliances such as air- conditioners, but your rooftop solar system is still producing energy, with the excess flowing into the electricity network. When customer rooftop solar systems export too much energy back into the network, we must temporarily reduce the amount of energy being produced from everyone’s rooftop solar systems to keep the network stable. We will be doing the same flexible generation management of Horizon Power’s large solar farm in Onslow. In summer, when customers use more energy, the reduction of rooftop solar generation is likely to be minimal.

On days where there is too much solar energy flowing into the electricity network, we will need to reduce the solar energy from your rooftop solar system, and this will be done for anywhere between a few minutes to several hours. This is an important part of the Onslow Renewable Energy Pilot, and Horizon Power provided generous financial incentives to customers for the purchase of rooftop solar and batteries to compensate for the small loss of energy, each time we need to reduce excess solar energy.

Once a rooftop solar system is installed, it is important to remember that your savings will depend on how and when you use energy. Here are a few energy use tips to help maintain your savings:

  • Use the same amount of energy as you did before you installed rooftop solar.
  • Keep you air-conditioner at 24 degrees and use fans where possible.
  • Use appliances while the sun is shining and you are producing solar energy, and
    conserve use at night.
  • Turn appliances off (including that second fridge) at the wall when not in use.

Sunlight angle and intensity
Different seasons and constant day-night cycles have an effect on your energy generation efforts. Solar production can be ~40% lower in winter. This is primarily due to the angle of the sun and fewer hours of sunlight.

Solar panel positions
Panels that are located on the north/west facing side of your roof will have higher output, while south/east facing panels will be lower in output.

Dirty panels
Dirt and dust on your solar panels can reduce their output by up to 50 percent. Clean your panels regularly for optimal performance.

How and when you use energy
Aim to use electricity when your system is producing – set your appliances to run during the day and try to minimise power use at night. To achieve savings, its important not to start using more electricity than you normally would.

Temperature
Contrary to popular belief, solar panels are not the most efficient in the hot summer months. For every 10 degrees above 25 degrees celsius, the panel loses around 5 percent of its efficiency.

The lower temperatures in winter will boost solar panel efficiency but because these days are shorter and the angel of the sun is lower, generation during winter is generally the same or lower than in summer.

System management
During the cooler months, not as much electricity is used by appliances such as air- conditioners, but your rooftop solar system is still producing energy, with the excess flowing into the electricity network.

When customer rooftop solar systems export too much energy back into the network, we must temporarily reduce the amount of energy being produced from everyone’s rooftop solar systems to keep the network stable.

You can use Horizon Power app to see how much energy is exported each day.

Additionally, Fronius and Senec, the manufacturers of your inverter and/or battery, have Apps to show your rooftop solar system’s performance.

Please contact MPS on (08) 6500 1530 to understand the best monitoring tool for your rooftop solar system.

We believe in the quality of these products. Should you experience a fault or issue with your solar panels or battery storage system, please contact MPS on (08) 6500 1530.