Where did the year go? 2019 was an exciting year for energy in Western Australia! The last 12 months has seen huge technological innovation and change - from smart streetlights to stand-alone power systems (SPS), microgrids to advanced meters and lots more.
Imagine a whole town powered by a renewable energy grid… that’s what we’ve started building in Kalbarri. We’re at the forefront of this innovation that will deliver a better, more reliable power supply.
Take a look at 10 of our top projects and events from 2019…
A year in pictures...
Did you know that one of Australia’s largest renewable energy microgrids will be right here in WA? Kalbarri is a hub of tourism activity, but its remote location provides a challenge to maintain a reliable power supply. In September 2019, construction started on a Kalbarri microgrid. In December, the microgrid’s battery was shipped from Perth to Kalbarri. Powered by wind and solar, find out how this microgrid will transform Kalbarri’s energy reliability in the future…
Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)
2019 saw the next leap forward in electricity innovation for our grid – the introduction of advanced metering on a large scale. This smart technology can help detect power supply issues and automatically calculate your energy use (no more billing estimates). The success of this project means 238,000 advanced meters are on their way…
In November 2019 we rolled out our smart streetlights trial in Melville. Every year, around 40,000 streetlight faults are reported to us. Our new smart streetlights automatically report faults to our network control centre so repairs are actioned more quickly. The lights can also be dimmed/brightened remotely and have improved energy efficiency. It’s a smarter and brighter way to manage streetlighting.
Our network is one of the biggest and most remote on the planet. As you can imagine, this presents unique challenges! By using state-of-the-art LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology to 3D aerial map our network, we can identify issues faster, and at less cost. See LiDAR in action.
We welcomed 19 new apprentices to our ranks in February 2019. These 10 women and nine men hail from as far as Meekatharra and Albany and have started their training as Lineworkers, Electricians, Mechanics and Cable Jointers. This year's apprentice intake included two of our youngest apprentices ever employed, but also our oldest! Along with our trainees and graduates they’re part of our future focus, ensuring we’re training up Western Australians to provide tomorrow’s power needs.
Want to know what it’s like being an apprentice at Western Power?
Drones to inspect the network
In August we were flying high – we commenced our 3-month trial to use drones for network inspection. Rolling out in Northam and Geraldton, the drones will help inspect powerlines in hard-to-reach or sensitive locations such as fields and crops. The thermal imaging cameras provide close-up views so we can detect problems before they cause a power outage.
What to do with excess solar energy? Put it into a PowerBank! PowerBanks are community-scale batteries using Tesla technology for bulk energy storage. Partnering with Synergy, this Australian-first community battery trial was rolled out to 129 households in Mandurah and Falcon to support the region’s power supply during peak demand. Watch this space…more community batteries are coming in 2020.
Thinkers, makers, innovators and Circuit Breakers. 2019 saw 30 primary schools selected to take part in our exciting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) outreach program for students in Years 4-6. Students were provided Micro:bit technology and Western Power’s mentors to build their own version of the network of the future.
A big ‘thumbs up’ from customers gave the go-ahead for more stand-alone power systems (SPS) across the south west. Following on from the success of the first SPS trial in 2016, round 1 of the stand-alone power systems (SPS) project was announced in June. This will see 57 SPS installed providing customers with a better, more reliable power supply. Find out how the SPS is transforming the power supply in rural WA …
It’s been a year of highs and lows, especially for the weather. From extreme heat and bushfires to thunderous storms, WA has been battered by Mother Nature this year. This summer’s bushfires in Yanchep and surrounding areas caused extensive damage to homes and business as well as parts of the electricity network. Our teams worked around the clock with other emergency crews to help repair the damage and safely restore power to customers as soon as possible. Seasonal weather like this can wreak havoc on our power supply and cause safety hazards and power outages.