SOLAR CASE STUDY – KARRATHA AIRPORT

Karratha, Western Australia

  • Karratha Airport Solar Power Station
Location

Karratha, WA

System size

1MW

Estimated Annual Production

1,871 MWh

Estimated Annual Carbon Offset

1,254 tonnes

Solar Panels

340W

Solar Inverters

SMA Sunny Tripower

Mounting system

SunLock

Special Features

Cloud Predictive Technology

Energy Matters has collaborated with multiple stakeholders to deliver an innovative 1MW solar project for the City of Karratha at Western Australia’s second-largest airport, Karratha Airport.

Karratha Airport provides a crucial link to the Pilbara region; with multiple daily services from Perth, twice-weekly flights to Broome and weekly services to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

It’s a very busy place – passenger numbers at the airport increased from 207,458 in 1985-86 to 798,301 in 2011-12.

A reliable, long-term energy solution was crucial to meeting Karratha Airport’s increasing electricity demands.

The land on which the airport site is located covers a total of 722 hectares – providing plenty of space for solar panels.

After identifying this opportunity, Webster Power Company sought out construction and technology partners, along with funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

Energy Matters was approached to assist with delivering a cost-effective solar project, which would also be connected to the North West Interconnected System (NWIS).

There were some unique challenges in planning and designing the project.

The NWIS is a smaller network that requires renewable energy systems to observe specific criteria in order to maintain overall network stability.

Network owner and operator Horizon Power usually requires significant levels of energy storage for large solar installations at this point in time to smooth output intermittency.  This requirement is due to intermittent cloud cover that can result in huge, sudden variations in solar electricity output.

To address this, the facility incorporates a generation management system (GMS) with cutting-edge cloud predictive technology (CPT) provided by MPower. It’s the first time cloud predictive technology has been utilised on a network-connected solar power installation of this magnitude .

When cloud is detected, CPT slowly reduces the supply of power from the solar panels before the sun is blocked out altogether. Through the use of CPT, the need for energy storage is reduced.

Constructed by CPS National, the clean power plant also features high-performance 340 watt solar panels and SMA Sunny Tripower solar inverters. The facillity is expected to generate 1,871 MWh of clean electricity annually and avoid 1,254 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.

The City of Karratha will purchase the energy produced by the facility under a 21 year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). The move to a solar PPA ensures long term security for energy supply and locked in electricity pricing.

The $7.1 million project has been supported by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which contributed $2.3 million. The funding was granted as the project met ARENA’s objectives of working to reduce the cost and increase the use of renewable energy in Australia.

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