Some cities, states, and countries say that they just can’t go 100% renewable — it’s “impossible.” Others say that they may be able to do it, someday, perhaps. Others tells us that they will do it — in 2050. Or maybe 2040. Perhaps even 2030. And then there are some that have already done it. (Yes, including several countries.)
The latest jurisdiction to log a 100% renewable energy milestone is the town of Onslow in Australia. Onslow was actually 100% powered by solar (+ battery energy storage) for 80 minutes recently. More of that is on the way, as well.
True, Onslow has a population of 848 according to the 2016 census. We’re not talking New York City. Nonetheless, a town is a town, and being 100% solar powered for a significant period of time is impressive.
An Onslow Distributed Energy Resource Project demonstration reportedly marked the landmark achievement. “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,” Western Australia Energy Minister Bill Johnston said. “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.”
Indeed. While it may not be the largest or most complicated grid to power, proving that it’s possible in yet another jurisdiction has broader importance and implications. Note that this microgrid isn’t purely powered by renewables (at all times). It has gas power available at the moment. But that will be used less and less. The Onslow Distributed Energy Resource Project is still just in a testing phase. Full commissioning is planned for later in 2021.
“State-owned regional utility Horizon Power successfully powered the community, home to more than 800 people, for a total of 80 minutes with renewable energy during a trial of the microgrid late last month,” pv magazine reports. “The system consists of a 600 kW ground-mounted solar plant, a 700 kW rooftop array, and a battery system.”
PXiSE Energy Solutions manages the software side of this microgrid setup. It “uses predictive analytics to maximize the amount of renewable energy in the microgrid while maintaining network stability for all customers.” The company wants to work electric vehicles and other consumer products into its system in time, as well.