Western Australian transmission and distribution network provider Western Power has announced a tender requesting WA businesses to register their interest in developing a Disconnected Microgrid (DMG) pilot project in the Midwest, Wheatbelt or Great Southern region.
A DMG is a small, isolated network (e.g. a town) that can operate independently of the grid (the South West Interconnected System). For these rural towns in fringe of grid locations, transitioning to a DMG will allow Western Power to retire their ageing distribution network assets, many of which are approaching end of life. Moreover, as these poles and wires can run radially for hundreds of kilometres, they are also vulnerable to lightning strikes or bushfires, which can lead to poor reliability and frequent blackouts for these towns, e.g. Kalbarri after Cyclone Seroja. Finally, the regions serviced by these ageing assets are also low density, meaning more assets to maintain for a small number of customers. With the DMG concept, Western Power is hoping that it can supply more reliable electricity at lower cost.
The pilot project is currently at an early feasibility stage, but it does represent an exciting opportunity for the deployment of more standalone microgrids in Australia.