Australian utility wins funding for distributed energy pilot

Australian utility Horizon Power is to trial distributed energy systems in Western Australia state after receiving funding from ARENA, the country’s renewable energy agency.

ARENA has allocated AUD1.9m ($1.4m) in support for the trial of a number of different behind-the-meter systems in the coastal town of Carnarvon.

The pilot project, with a total cost of AUD7.1m, will install the solutions in 90 homes and businesses.

Technologies tested are planned to include ‘Internet of Things’ energy metering, rooftop solar PV, residential battery storage, inverters with remote monitoring and control devices, and weather forecast devices.

The three-year trial aims to overcome the technical and commercial barriers faced by prosumers in order to reduce the cost of distributed energy systems by up to 25 per cent.

It will also test the commercial viability of delivering high-penetration distributed renewable power to off-grid communities, with the aim of growing the amount of renewables in existing microgrids.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the pilot project is the first of a series of trials planned by Horizon to “explore the most cost-effective way of designing and managing a future grid”.

“If we can resolve the technical and cost barriers of distributed energy systems and get metering, monitoring, solar and storage to work as a whole,” he added, “we can make better use of these assets, reduce costs and empower prosumers.”

Western Australia’s energy minister, Ben Wyatt, said the state is “committed to supporting the development and refinement of technological solutions that advance a renewable future and we are delighted that ARENA have chosen to invest in such important trials that will ultimately see more renewable energy installed in regional Western Australia.”

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