Esperance farmers to be self-powered in Australia first project

Condingup farmer Nicholas Chapman with his standalone power system that provides 24 hour self-generated energy. Photo: Horizon Power.
Condingup farmer Nicholas Chapman with his standalone power system that provides 24 hour self-generated energy. Photo: Horizon Power.

Seventeen rural properties east of Esperance will turn to off the grid solar power as part of an Australia first standalone power system project.

Horizon Power is set to provide rural Esperance and Hopetoun farmers with standalone solar power systems to be commissioned by the end of October.

The generators were first used by customers in Scadden and Cape Le Grand in 2015 to replace power lines destroyed in the devastating Esperance bush fires.

They combine solar panels, batteries, inverters and back-up diesel to ensure properties have self-generated 24 hour power regardless of weather.

Condingup farmer Nicholas Chapman's property was one of five to first use the renewable power systems and said he had noticed the benefits.

"We just simply can never lose the power now, we did use to encounter some disruptions with power, not many, but you always get some seeing we are out on the edge of the grid and easily isolated," he said.

"I think there has been a couple of power outages in the area but because we are all on standalone we don't experience them."

Mr Chapman said after harvest when remaining power poles are removed they will be on a fully standalone system, eliminating chance of injury or damage from machinery coming in contact with power poles.

"Once they are all removed it means there is never any chance to hit them with machinery and for aerial spraying, the pilots don't have to worry about the power lines," he said.

"It's just a no brainer because our cost stays the same as it was and it's just more reliable."

The 17 new systems will replace 64 kilometres of rural power lines prone to damage and frequent outages without any added costs for customers.

Energy Minister Bill Johnston said improvements to the state's energy sector was well overdue.

"The energy sector is undergoing a significant transformation, which is mainly driven by the rapid uptake of solar panels and battery storage systems at homes," he said.

"The Government is looking at a range of options and initiatives to evolve the State's power system and deliver a cleaner, brighter and more resilient energy supply for decades to come."