Standalone power system provider bought out as Western Power increases rollout

Pacific Energy has bought into the standalone power systems market that is growing as Western Power shrinks its transmission network to save cost and increase reliability.

Standalone power system provider bought out as Western Power increases rollout

Perth's Pacific Energy, a provider of power to remote mine sites, has moved into smaller systems with the acquisition of Hybrid Systems that supplies standalone power systems to Western Power.

Pacific Energy chief executive Jamie Cullen yesterday said Hybrid Systems would help its existing mining customers reduce their carbon footprint and allow Pacific Energy to provide standalone power systems and microgrids.

Cullen said the purchase was a significant step in Pacific Energy's growth following its acquisition in November 2019 by a group of funds managed by QIC.

"This transaction delivers a talented and cutting-edge team experienced in the integrated renewables market, where decentralisation, decarbonisation and cost reductions are generating significant new growth opportunities," Cullen said.

Western Power launched a trial for 57 standalone power systems in 2019, of which 52 were commissioned. Hybrid Systems won the contract to supply 47 of the systems.

Hybrid produces a standardised system of solar panels, a battery, an inverter to produce alternating current and a back-up diesel generator that is designed for easy deployment.

Western Power is now better placed to roll out standalone power systems after legislation passed in April allows it to recoup the cost as it does with its transmission network.

Minister of Energy Bill Johnston told a conference yesterday that Western Power could now decommission overhead transmission lines on the fringe of the grid areas to reduce the cost of supply and bushfire risks, and enhance reliability.

"We plan to roll out tens of thousands of standalone power systems to customers right across the Wheatbelt and other parts of regional WA," Johnston said.

Standalone power system locations across Western Power's network
Proposed early standalone power system locations across Western Power's network. Source: Western Power

Western Power has a second-round underway for an additional 100 standalone power systems.

Johnston said early users of standalone power systems saw them as a sub-optimal option, but now customers are seeking to have them installed.

"The 30-year cost of servicing a customer in the isolated Wheatbelt region, with poles and wires, is 24 times that of a Perth customer," Johnston said in a statement.

Cullen said in addition to the standalone power systems market; he saw the opportunity to expand the market for Hybrid Systems' larger-scale battery energy storage systems (BESS) to maximise the use of renewable energy. Hybrid has completed BESS projects in Onslow, Carnarvon and Mt Magnet.

Hybrid has been a supplier to Pacific Energy subsidiary Contract Power that recently won a 20-year contract to build, own and operate a renewables hub to power Esperance.

Main Picture: Western Power stand-alone power system. Source: Pacific Energy

Update 7 May 3:45PM : Added that only 52 SPS systems were completed in round one and Contract Power awarded an Esperance power contract.