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Western Australia is pursuing innovative solar opportunities for the Goldfields

Western Australia is pursuing innovative solar opportunities for the Goldfields

An announcement
made by the Government
of Western Australia
featured the plans of the McGowan Government to
develop a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) trial in the Goldfields that will bring
renewable energy, innovative technology, and network support to the region.

A$500,000 will be invested by the McGowan
Government for the development of a proposal for a VPP trial in the Goldfields
in order to make land available for future large-scale renewable energy
development in the region.

A VPP is a distributed rooftop solar and
battery system that collects energy, which can be described as being similar to
that of a centralised power station.

It can also link rooftop solar panels with
energy storage devices and load control systems in a web-based network to
create a single energy supply.

A preliminary assessment into large-scale
solar projects in the Goldfields identified the best path forward to bring
renewable energy, innovative technology, and network support to the region.
This will secure the future energy needs for Kalgoorlie-Boulder and the wider
region.

Different groups were consulted during the
assessment: the local industry, energy groups, mining companies, solar
developers and relevant government agencies.

Installation of a VPP on the
Kalgoorlie-Boulder properties will most likely include public housing, which
will provide the public housing tenants access to renewable energy as well as
reduced electricity charges.

Positive results of having a VPP are provision
of more energy to the region and improved reliability, which is fundamental to
enabling the economic development and growth of the region.

Alongside the implementation of network
regulation changes in 2022 would be the allocation of available land for the
development of large-scale renewable projects.

The Department
of Primary Industries and Regional Development
will work hand in hand with
relevant agencies, such as the Public
Utilities Office
, Western Power,
and Lands agencies.

Regional Development Minister Alannah
MacTiernan said, "We now have a comprehensive analysis of the complexities
of a large-scale solar project in the region, and mapped out some innovative
and interesting ways forward.”

She added, “A VPP has the potential to
achieve multiple positive outcomes, including increasing the amount of energy
available in the Goldfields, trialling innovative power technologies, supporting
grid stability and management strategies, and helping WA move forward on
emissions reduction. We look forward to working with industry and other
stakeholders on building the best model for the region.”

“Kalgoorlie-Boulder and the wider region is
a big economic contributor to the State. Future renewable energy solutions will
be a priority to securing regional growth and servicing the needs of this
growing regional population,” she explained.

Energy Minister Ben Wyatt said, “Despite
the Goldfields being an obvious location for a major solar project with
year-round high solar energy levels, input to the electricity grid in the
region needs to be carefully managed.”

He added, “The trial of a Virtual Power
Plant in the Goldfields is an exciting prospect that has the potential to
assist Western Power and the market operator to assess how innovative
technologies can help manage some network challenges in the region.”

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