Hundreds of people were cut off from the grid following the Esperance bushfires.

The Western Australian government has announced it is investing in solar and battery storage to power properties affected by last November’s Esperance bushfire, which destroyed more than 320 power poles and hundreds of kilometres of powerlines.

Instead of reconnecting remote users to the grid, the WA government will instead create five solar-powered stand-alone systems with lithium-ion battery storage, which will be backed up by diesel generation.

The project will cover four remote users across five properties, and will be led by electricity provider Horizon Power.

WA energy minister Mike Nahan said the government was committed to harnessing the latest developments in renewable energy technology. However, the benefits are as much economic as they are environmental.

“The Esperance project is applying an off-grid solution to customers affected by the devastating Esperance bushfires in those areas of the network which had previously supplied only one or two customers along long stretches of powerline,” Dr Nahan said.

“This is one of the many innovative projects the government is currently exploring to power regional and isolated Western Australian communities more efficiently and reliably.

Dr Nahan said network operator Western Power was also partnering with Horizon Power and retailer and generator Synergy to “undertake a pilot project to evaluate the use of stand-alone power systems in other parts of regional WA”.

In a sign that the financial benefits of off-grid solar and storage in remote areas is starting to stack up, Dr Nahan said Horizon was expected to use the knowledge gained from the stand-alone power systems in Esperance for other areas in regional WA.

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