The future of electricity is being reinvented in Western Australia, where CPS National is working with Horizon Power to replace 54km of transmission with stand-alone power systems (SAPS).
In an effort to stay ahead of the advancement of renewable energy, West Australian energy utility Horizon Power is disrupting itself rather than waiting to be disrupted by others.
As a national first, government-owned Horizon Power in conjunction with delivery partner CPS National is shrinking its own remote grid and providing a full electric utility service without expensive, higher risk poles and wires.
Horizon is a fully vertically integrated electricity service provider and has the world’s largest utility service territory, seven times the size of Germany. Despite the vast scale of operations, Horizon Power only has a customer base of just over 100,000 Australians. This creates some unique challenges.
Horizon Power has moved beyond technology trials to begin decommissioning and full removal of ageing overhead network. Remote network segments with defects have been identified and grouped into spurs, the first of which is the 54km Esperance feeder. Customers at the ends of spurs have been prioritised to receive supply from stand-alone power systems.
In the first tranche being rolled out, 15 stand-alone systems are being built to replace 54km of poles and wires. All the systems are completely independent of each other.
Plans into action
Utility-led decommissioning of existing rural network is a sensitive matter (socially, legally, politically and in terms of health, safety and environment). It involves transitioning customers from a familiar source of electricity to a different and unfamiliar technology. Despite the best efforts, customers can easily become fearful that they’re being left to “fend for themselves”.
From the customer’s perspective, the decommissioning of network is being done primarily for the utility’s benefit and they still expect the same or better supply of electricity.
From Horizon Powers’ perspective the utilization of stand-alone power systems (SPSs) is only viable and scalable where the quality and longevity of the asset is commensurate with utility requirements; the fleet of thousands of assets can be fully monitored and managed remotely (and ideally by one fleet-management platform), and; all deployment, maintenance and service functions are fully integrated with back office utility systems.
In other words, the technology requires whole-of-system integration and must ultimately become a new utility asset class.
New utility asset class
While several market actors are producing parts of this solution, Horizon Power found that no single vendor has commercialised a whole-of-system solution that is ready to scale to hundreds, let alone thousands, of systems; technology-agnostic and capable of seamlessly managing a diversity of systems; fully compliant with critical infrastructure cyber security standards, and; fully aligned with mandatory utility safety and operational requirements.
The partnership between Horizon Power and CPS National will change all that. The result is a full electric utility service offering without “poles and wires” as an entirely new utility asset class. The resulting stand-alone power systems are a “vertically-integrated utility in a box”, compliant with all utility safety, service, tariff metering and asset management obligations.
Sizing systems to customer demand
Horizon Power has utilised its advanced metering infrastructure to model the best stand-alone power system size for each site. The systems are sized to provide the same or better quality of supply compared to the old connection. The CPS design is modular and scalable, allowing for easy customisation.