Renewable energy investment across WA’s main energy system
Western Australia’s main electricity grid – the South West Interconnected System or SWIS – stretches across the south west of our state, providing power to more than one million homes and businesses.
Large gas and coal-fired generators are still generating electricity to help meet our state’s collective electricity consumption needs – but things are changing. Now, rooftop solar, battery energy storage systems and wind farms are playing an increasingly significant role in our energy mix.
Here's your guide to the State Government’s renewable energy investment through Synergy across the SWIS.
Synergy and the State Government’s carbon emissions reduction targets
Synergy's coal-fired generation will be phased out over the next five to seven years. Without coal-fired generation, it is estimated Synergy’s carbon emissions will be reduced by 80% by 2030, when compared to 2021 levels. This is a major step towards helping to achieve the State Government target of net zero emissions by 2050.
Making the transition into a more renewable energy future in WA involves a significant amount of planning, expertise and renewable energy investment.
$3 billion State Government renewable energy investment through Synergy
Over the coming years, Synergy will continue to play a leading role in WA’s energy transformation. Our team is already involved in planning, developing and delivering a range of new renewable electricity generation and storage projects as part of the State Government's $3.8 billion investment, $3 billion of which are to be delivered through Synergy.
The way we generate, store and use energy is rapidly changing, and we’re using our experience and expertise in the electricity industry to help create a renewable energy future for everyone in WA. The investment in renewable energy will include building and optimising wind farms and battery storage systems to help meet the changing needs of the SWIS by 2030.
Here are some more details on some of the projects.
Investment in wind farm technology
Wind farm technology might seem new but it has actually been part of the energy generation mix here in WA for more than three decades. On average, wind energy supplies around 18% of the total electricity generated in the SWIS.
Generating renewable energy from the wind makes sense in the SWIS, especially with the amount of wind WA experiences along the south west coast. At Synergy, we have a lot of experience in wind farm technology and even launched Australia’s first commercial wind farm in 1987.
Now, we’re working on building new wind farms, and exploring acquisitions and expansions of existing farms to tap into more wind power for the generation of electricity in WA. Overall, we’re working on adding at least 400 megawatts of new wind generation capacity in the SWIS by 2030.
One of these renewable energy projects includes a plan to build a wind farm near King Rocks in the Shire of Kondinin. The plan for this wind farm, with a capacity of up to 150 megawatts, has already received development and environmental approvals.
Harnessing battery storage for rooftop solar
Your business might already be taking advantage of renewable energy in the form of rooftop solar. In fact, rooftop solar is now a major source of electricity generation in the SWIS.
More than 400,000 WA homes and businesses, and over a third of Synergy customers, now have rooftop solar PV systems. At certain times of day, the combined generation from rooftop solar can generate three times as much electricity as the Muja Power Station, WA’s largest power station. While this is a positive step towards a more renewable energy future, it also creates challenges in balancing supply and demand in the electricity grid through the day.
Batteries can help WA make the most of all our rooftop solar generation by storing the renewable energy in battery energy storage systems. The Big Battery which is being built in Kwinana, will be capable of storing up to 200 megawatt hours of excess energy generated by rooftop solar during the day. This energy can then be used during times of peak demand, such as in the evening.
We’re planning to build the equivalent of 11 more battery energy storage systems the size of the Big Battery in Kwinana by the end of this decade. These batteries will help to support renewable energy generation capacity in the SWIS and help to support grid stability.
Community batteries: Schools VPP Pilot Project and Alkimos battery activated
Our Schools Virtual Power Plant Pilot Project (VPP) and Alkimos Beach community battery are helping to ease evening peak electricity demand to take pressure off the electricity grid.
At the moment, our Schools VPP Pilot Project includes ten operational virtual power plants (or VPPs) with seven more under construction.
The Alkimos Beach community battery was initially launched as part of the Alkimos Beach Energy Storage Trial. When the trial concluded in May 2021, the community battery was identified as an asset that could continue to be used to support the grid in the future.
Here’s how these assets are already helping to support the main electricity network in WA:
- Hot summer evenings can be a time of instability across the SWIS, as demand for electricity peaks as people across the SWIS arrive home and switch on appliances and air conditioning.
- This year, for the first time the Schools VPP Pilot Project and Alkimos Beach community battery assets were activated for three hours between 5pm and 8pm on Monday, 20 February 2023.
- These assets actually overdelivered and exceeded the electricity demand requirements of the SWIS during those 3 hours. This is great news for WA’s electricity system, showing that distributed energy resources (DER) can help deliver electricity as and when needed.
The Schools VPP Pilot Project and Alkimos Beach community battery will provide extra capacity until 31 March 2023 to help the grid's stability, and after this time, they will continue to operate to support the system off market. In total, these assets can provide the SWIS with up to 7.2 megawatt hours of electricity. Based on the average daily electricity consumption across WA for households, this is enough to power more than 500 homes each day.
Making the most of existing assets such as this one is faster and less costly than building new assets, while reducing potential environmental impacts and moving us closer to a decarbonised future.
Learn more about WA’s renewable energy future
The renewable energy investment in WA is helping to shape a new energy future and helping to meet the changing needs of the SWIS.
Synergy’s development of renewables is not just restricted to electricity generation in the SWIS, another aspect of our renewable energy initiatives is our support of the national electric vehicle strategy. Read more about our role in delivering Australia’s longest EV charging network.