Utility group Western Power has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to pilot a disconnected microgrid in the Midwest, Wheatbelt or Great Southern region of Western Australia.
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The Western Australian Government-owned utility is seeking registrations of interest to understand the capability and capacity of the market to develop a microgrid that may be a more cost-effective way to supply smaller regional communities.
Western Power operates a network with more than 1.1 million customers but its aging distribution system (415 V to 33 kV) is approaching the end of its life in many areas. For small rural towns near the edge of the grid, customers are experiencing frequent power interruptions because of stretches of bare overhead conductor wires sometimes hundreds of miles long. With replacement cost presenting a significant challenge, particularly in remote locations, preliminary assessments have indicated that, in some cases, providing a supply to the same load via a microgrid is less costly than replacing the existing network.
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The RFP is seeking design, supply and installation of a microgrid that will be able to meet the typical load characteristics of a small town in the region – peak loads in the order of a few hundred kilowatts and a daily average of a few hundred kilowatt-hours for the majority of the year — with a significant portion (90% or more) of generation coming from renewable sources. In addition, suppliers must offer long-term reliability and ensure the grid has the capabilities for electric motor starting as well as managing fault currents.
The solution could be based on capital expenditure, operational expenditure or a combination of both and must be deliverable by June 2023, the RFP noted.
Western Power said the pilot could provide opportunities for local suppliers and will be targeting local businesses that can demonstrate their capability and capacity to meet the scope requirements.
The RFP is available on the Western Power website.
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