Monday, May 15, 2017

Blackout parties: how solar and storage made WA farmers the most popular in town

 A long the remote southern coastline of Western Australia, the locals have cottoned on to a new, surefire way to keep their beer cold.
One of Rodney Locke’s solar and storage systems in Western
Australia. Since he fitted his property out with renewable
 energy, friends without it pop round during electricity blackouts.
The energy grid around Esperance and Ravensthorpe is unreliable at the best of times, but after a bushfire took out the poles and wires around these far-flung outback towns last year, the power company asked residents if they might be interested in trying out a more economically and environmentally sustainable way to keep the lights on and the bar fridge humming.

Rather than fully rebuild the sprawling infrastructure required to reconnect all residents to the grid, network operator Horizon Power turned to WA renewables pioneer Carnegie Clean Energy to help roll out stand-alone solar and storage systems.

The Carnegie managing director, Michael Ottaviano, said the scheme had led to a new phenomenon in the towns. “People assume the grid is something reliable and permanent, but in reality it is a centralised system with very long lines out to remote communities – it is in fact highly susceptible to failure,” he says.

Read the Max Opray’s story on The Guardian - “Blackout parties: how solar and storage made WA farmers the most popular in town.”

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