Success for WA ‘intelligent’ microgrid trial powered by solar panels and batteries

By Melissa Coade

Monday June 21, 2021

WA town Onslow was powered by a 100% renewable energy microgrid for a total of 80 minutes. (Adobe/Jess rodriguez)

In a nation-first, the Western Australian town of Onslow has been powered by a 100% renewable energy microgrid for a total of 80 minutes.

The Onslow power project trial was announced by the state government two years ago, with the goal of encouraging the uptake of solar panels and batteries. Its hydrocarbon free functionality is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 820 tonnes each year. 

“The operation of the Onslow microgrid powered by 100% renewables signifies a landmark step towards building a cleaner, brighter, renewable energy future for our state,” energy minister Bill Johnson said.

The microgrid uses 700 kilowatts of customer generated solar and 600 kilowatts of utility soar, while supported by battery technology.

An intelligent system uses predictive analytics to maximise the amount of renewable energy in the microgrid, while also ensuring that the network remains stable for all power customers. 

According to the WA government, this is the first time that the intelligent ‘distributed energy resources management’ system (DERMS) has been deployed in a remote microgrid in Australia. The system is used to manage solar, wind, energy storage, combined heat and power, smart appliances, conventional generation resources as a coordinated system.

Further testing of the DERMS will be done by Horizon Power and partner PXiSE Energy Solutions before the government commissions the project later this year.

“This innovative project demonstrates how distributed energy resources can be safely integrated at the grid level, unlocking further benefits from Western Australia’s world-leading rooftop solar uptake,” Johnson said. 

MP Peter Foster said the trial demonstrated the government’s commitment to renewable energy growth and regional development. 

“The success of this trial paves the way for more affordable and reliable energy for households and businesses in Onslow, and is part of the government’s upgrade of the social and critical infrastructure in the town,” he said. 


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