The Karratha Airport Solar Plant project involves the design, construction, commissioning and operation of a 1 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) facility with cloud predictive technology (CPT) at Western Australia’s second-largest airport Karratha Airport. The City of Karratha, which owns Karratha Airport, will enter into a 21 year power purchase agreement (PPA) with the solar plant.
The Karratha Airport Solar Plant project focuses on a stable, long-term energy solution to meet Karratha Airport’s increasing energy demands. Karratha Airport is seeking a cost-effective means of connecting to the North West Interconnected System (NWIS).
The NWIS is a smaller network that requires renewable energy systems to adhere to performance criteria to maintain overall network stability. Network owner/operator Horizon Power currently requires high levels of energy storage for solar installations to control output as cloud cover impacts solar generation. This leads to higher costs, making solar less competitive.
The Karratha Airport Solar Plant project will prove a technically robust, scalable, and ultimately cost-effective solution to solar PV intermittency, using an innovative grid interface.
Including cloud prediction technology will reduce the level of energy storage required whilst maintaining the performance standard specified by Horizon Power. Successful demonstration of solar with cloud prediction technology has the potential to accelerate solar PV deployment in the NWIS and in broader markets.
The City of Karratha is expected to achieve significant savings in electricity expenditure over the 21 year PPA term by purchasing electricity at a predictable price and hedging against uncertainty in future electricity prices. By sourcing part of its energy needs from renewables, the airport is also expected to offset an estimated 1,200 tonnes of CO2 annually, the equivalent to taking 260 cars off the road.
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Impact Investment Group will be the long-term owner and operator of the project, having acquired it from Sunedison Australia. The project was originally developed by Webster Power Company after identifying the opportunity to supplement grid electricity with renewable electricity at Karratha Airport. Webster Power Company identified construction and technology partners, initiated the funding process with ARENA and is working closely with SunEdison Australia to deliver the project before selling the completed project to Impact Investment Group.
Flex Australia and CPS National constructed the project and will be providing operational and maintenance services for two years after completion.
MPower supplied the cloud predictive technology and grid stability systems for the installation, as a subcontractor to CPS National, meeting the network connection requirements of Horizon Power.