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Walpole will soon be home to Western Australia’s first pumped-hydro microgrid.

The Western Power and Power Research and Development joint renewable microgrid project will significantly improve power reliability for homes and businesses in Walpole.

Earlier this month, Power Research and Development’s project was awarded $2 million as part of the McGowan Government’s Clean Energy Future Fund.

The 1.5 megawatt pumped hydro facility will use two farm dams to store 30 megawatt hours of energy. It will work by pumping water uphill from one dam to another when renewables are abundant and energy is cheap.

During periods of high demand, the water is released downhill through a generator to produce electricity. In the event of an outage, it will also supply power to the town.

Walpole is at the end of a 125 kilometre long feeder line that is exposed to disruptive elements such as: plants and animals, storms, lightning and bushfires.

The pumped-hydro solution aims to reduce the number of outages in Walpole community at no additional cost to businesses or the community.

The facility also supports the increasing rise of renewables, by assisting the balance of demand and supply. It’s expected to be fully operational in the second half of 2023.

Western Power is hosting a community meeting at 12pm today at the Walpole Community Hall, for the public to learn more about this innovative project.

Comments attributed to Energy Minister Bill Johnston:

 “The Walpole pumped-hydro microgrid is part of the McGowan Government’s commitment to improving power reliability in the regions.

“This project, despite being on a smaller scale, will be used as a template for other areas in the State, and possibly nationally and internationally.

“A great collaboration between the State Government and Power Research and Development, this project will create jobs and opportunities for the WA community.

“Power outages in the town can be disruptive and improving reliability is a priority for Western Power.”

Comments attributed to Warren-Blackwood MLA Jane Kelsbie:

“This is fantastic news for our community here in Walpole and for WA more broadly.

“Not only will the Walpole pumped-hydro project play an important part in our clean energy future, it will also generate quality local jobs.

“It’s wonderful to see innovative clean energy projects being created right here in our community.”

Comments attributed to Power Research and Development Director Colin Stonehouse:

“Our project has new and clever technology; but generating power from two farm dams in Walpole is inspired by the earliest AC hydro power plant, built in 1892. It is still running today as a source of clean, renewable energy.

“When our collaboration first commenced, Western Power was clear this project should be in Walpole. Since then we have had encouragement and support from the State Government, Shire and community, all of which has helped tremendously.

“We must be onto something good because the project has drawn on some of the leading suppliers in the world for its equipment and without exception, they have all wanted to be involved and been very generous with their help.”

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