PHAETON ENERGY’S ROLL-OUT STRATEGY IS IN LINE WITH WESTERN POWER’S MICROGRID FRAMEWORK.
The West Australian Government-owned Western Power is seeking registrations of interest to develop its first renewables-based disconnected microgrid in either the Mid-West, Wheatbelt or Great Southern region of Western Australia. Western Power builds, maintains and operates the electricity network within the Southwest Interconnected System (SWIS) in the southwest corner of the state, connecting more than 1.1 million customers.
Parts of its distribution network are approaching end-of-life and where small isolated rural towns are involved, this presents a costly challenge. These “fringe-of-grid” locations where power must travel up to hundreds of kilometers through bare overhead lines can also have poor quality electricity supply as they are prone to impacts from trees and animals, lightning strikes, high winds, and bushfires. Instead of continuing with mains grid supply, stand-alone power systems and disconnected microgrids may not only be a cheaper solution but will also be more reliable — and safer.
What Is a Disconnected Microgrid (DMG)?
A disconnected microgrid is one operating independently from the rest of the grid. It involves renewables, often solar power, supported by a battery and diesel generator backup. Western Power says a DMG is like a stand-alone power system (SPS) but services more than 5 customers.
The utility has already seen success with its stand-alone power system rollout and is now looking to bigger systems.
For this first disconnected microgrid project, the peak load is expected to be around 200 kW, but future projects are likely to be up to 600 kW peak. As for electricity consumption over a typical day, the solution will need to provide around 350 kWh, but during the grain, season consumption could top 1 MWh per day.
Renewables And Local Focus
The project to win the guernsey won’t involve a thumping great diesel generator and a token amount of solar power. Most of the electricity generation will need to come from renewable sources — 90% or more.
Western Power will either own and operate the facility, with initial maintenance supplied by the provider; or the chosen provider will own, operate, and maintain the system.
The first town to receive a disconnected microgrid is yet to be identified.
Registrations of interest in the proposed project will be accepted until January 7, 2022. Western Power will review submissions and the shortlisted registrants invited to submit an Expression of Interest and/or a Request for Proposal. Western Power says it will be targeting local businesses to promote growth in this emerging industry.
WA Energy Minister Bill Johnston said the initiative was an exciting opportunity for Western Australian businesses.
“The McGowan Government is committed to creating new jobs for Western Australians and exploring technological innovations that will help shape our state’s future power supply,” he stated. “Disconnected microgrids can provide low-carbon emission benefits and will help reach our target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”
Phaeton Energy’s Strategy
While Phaeton Energy is not focused on entering this tender process directly, we have been in constant communication with government authorities to ensure our strategic plan fits with the overall government plan.
Our strategy is to target blackout hotspots with regional townships of significant population bases to meet our mandate of impact investment. The disconnected microgrids will be disconnected, whereas our plants provide a similar function within a connected grid, being the SWIS. The towns we target have customer bases averaging 600, with a total of 6,000, providing a tangible benefit to approx. 20,000 people.
For more information, reach out to the Energy team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org