Off-grid solar power for Esperance bushfire victims

 Off-grid solar power for Esperance bushfire victims

28 July 2016

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Australia —  TECHNOLOGY, in the form of five stand-alone solar-powered systems, has come to the rescue of Esperance farmers who lost electrical power due to the devastating fires in November last year.

The five off-grid systems have been installed in three farms and the Department of Parks and Wildlife rangers’ camp at Cape Le Grand.

All of these customers were previously on long rural power lines that supplied a very small number of consumers and were susceptible to power interruptions.

Farmers Rodney and John Locke were the first and last respectively to have the solar power systems installed on their Cape Le Grand farms.

Rodney Locke says he is delighted to be the first Horizon Power customer to receive a stand-alone power system.

“I saw it as an opportunity to have something more than we had ever hoped for—a reliable, clean energy source which will deliver even better service than we had in the past,” he says.

“It won’t be affected by outages caused by maintenance on the network or weather-related events.”

Each of the power systems comprise 8KW solar panels, eight lithium-ion batteries and a 15-20kVA diesel generator and can be customised to deliver single, split or three phase power.

The batteries provide power after dark while the diesel generator should only be employed to cope with unusual loads or emergencies.

Horizon Power managing director Frank Tudor says they realised that instead of rebuilding parts of the network which were more susceptible to adverse weather and other causes of power interruptions, Horizon Power could offer those customers a dedicated renewable energy power system which was not connected to the grid.

“The customers will pay the same cost for their electricity as they did from their previous supply from the grid. They will also be able to call on Horizon Power to respond to any unplanned power outages,” Mr Tudor says.

Horizon Power, Western Power and Synergy are partnering in an evaluation of other rural applications in nearby Ravensthorpe for future use.

Meanwhile, in northern WA Sandfire Resources commissioned the world’s largest solar power and lithium-ion battery power facility at its’ DeGrussa copper mine in March.

The solar panels currently supplying approximately 7MW will ultimately provide 10MW of the mine’s 19MW requirements.

The panels cover an area of 20ha and supplement the existing diesel-fired power station. Sandfire expect to save about 5 million litres of diesel fuel a year.

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