The Western Australian Government has announced it will invest $500,000 to develop a proposal for a virtual power plant (VPP) trial in the Goldfields and make land available for future large-scale renewable energy development in the region.
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.
The assessment involved extensive consultation with local industry, energy groups, mining companies, solar developers and relevant government agencies.
The proposal will consider the installation of a VPP on Kalgoorlie-Boulder properties, which may include public housing, giving the potential for reducing electricity bills for residents.
“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,” WA Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said.
“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.”
The VPP would provide more energy to the region as well as improving reliability, which is fundamental to enabling the economic development and growth of the region.
Making land available for the development of large-scale renewable projects is also being planned to coincide with the implementation of network regulation changes in 2022.
“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,” WA Energy Minister Ben Wyatt said.
“The trial of a VPP 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.”