Great Southern region to be home to world-leading mini-pumped hydro system
More reliable power is coming to Walpole with some world leading technology and a mini-pumped hydro microgrid.
To make our grid more sustainable and reliable, we’re introducing new technologies – both large and small – to create new and innovative solutions on the grid.
Walpole will soon to be home to world-leading energy technology – a microgrid powered by mini-pumped hydro, that will improve power reliability in the area by as much as 80%.
The Walpole mini-pumped hydro project
Western Power is partnering with WA engineering firm Power Research and Development (PRD) to develop a mini-pumped hydro facility in Walpole and connect it to the SWIS network.
Two dams are being built on a farming property near Walpole, one high and one low, to transfer and store the water. Solar panels and batteries will power the pumping action and shift the water, making it self-sufficient.
The Walpole mini-pumped hydro system will be connected to the SWIS network and work as part of a microgrid, providing power to just over 500 local customers. If there is a disruption on the network, the microgrid can work independently, providing power to the local residents and businesses.
It will be able to provide enough power to supply Walpole for up to two days, much longer than a typical battery solution.
It is also sufficiently sized to support future power needs in Walpole, for example, charging EV’s and smoothing the ebbs and flows of local renewables on the network.
Construction is currently underway, with the Walpole mini-pumped hydro microgrid expected to fully operational by the end of 2023. Download the project brochure here.
Better power reliability for Walpole
For our Walpole customers, this new technology will result in a significant improvement in power reliability, with up to 80 per cent of outages expected to be mitigated by the pumped hydro microgrid.
Reliability has been an issue. The Walpole community sits at the end of a long 125km feeder line from Albany that is exposed to the elements and impacted by storms, wind or falling branches.
The length of the line needing to be inspected for faults compounds the length of the outages in the area.
“We had been considering a number of options to improve power reliability around Walpole, and the mini-pumped hydro option stood out as it brings multiple benefits” says Brenton Laws, Business Development Manager, Western Power.
“Firstly, it improves power reliability for our Walpole customers, which is our primary mission. It also facilitates new network technology with a mini-pumped hydro system, without huge network augmentation, giving us a new tool to use as we continue on the energy transformation path.
“This project also illustrates how network solutions can operate in parallel with commercial energy solutions, with PRD operating the facility to generate revenue when the microgrid is not required (the majority of the time). This revenue effectively lowers the network contribution to the facility."