Solar Energy Storage Packages for APA’s Northern Goldfields Interconnect Project
Location: Inland of Geraldton, WA
System Supplied: 4 x Custom Designed Modular Solar Systems
APA is a leading energy infrastructure business operating a $22 billion portfolio of gas, electricity, solar and wind assets across Australia. The company is embarking on a new buried gas pipeline project connecting new and existing gas provinces to existing infrastructure in WA’s Northern Goldfields region.
When complete, the Northern Goldfields Interconnect (NGI) will stretch 580km between Ambania and Leinster, opening up further supply of natural gas for the mining industry in the Goldfields region and beyond. Constructing such a mammoth pipeline naturally involves a significant amount of supporting infrastructure, both during and after construction. To support the power requirements of this project in the rugged and remote environment of Goldfields, APA worked with Valen to design a series of solar energy storage packages that were engineered to perform reliably in challenging conditions and isolated areas.
APA required four remote energy storage solutions for individual locations along the length of the 580km pipeline. The APA project team required a free-standing solar system and accompanying DC power supply equipment that would stand up to the challenging environment, and that could be installed using limited equipment.
A modular, pre-engineered solution was found to be the best solution, and the APA team approached Valen to design and supply four packages that met demanding criteria. Each solar system needed to include shading against the harsh desert sun, battery boxes compatible with limited installation equipment, require minimal ongoing maintenance and have remote monitoring capability.
To provide the most straightforward solution for maintenance crews on site, the brief also specified a single type of battery that would offer compatibility across all sites.
Co-creating a Solution
The Valen team took these requirements on board and got to work designing a solution that met APA’s requirements. A solar energy storage solution that could be easily lifted into position on-site without powered materials handling equipment presented a challenge, however thanks to Valen’s customised approach to engineering, this was quickly overcome with a modular design.
The design team worked with APA to produce a design for a battery box that could be lifted into position, fully loaded and wired, with the assistance of a pallet jack. The battery boxes were lockable with top and side-hinged doors featuring plenty of ventilation. Additionally, the design ensured that the batteries were stored 600mm off the ground to prevent potential flood damage.
A purpose-built tool to aid in lifting the Valen OPzV 2 Volt 800Ah batteries in and out of the battery box was designed and fabricated, enabling battery change-over to occur by a single technician. This significantly reduced the ongoing maintenance costs for APA.
The Valen team recommended APA utilise the Victron SmartEnergy 150/100 solar regulator across all sites to enable remote monitoring and minimise the requirement for technician training. To complete the packages, matching solar frames were fabricated and galvanised by local contractors and fixed to Valen solar panels, and all electrical cabinets were prewired prior to shipping.
Once all components were brought together on-site at Valen headquarters, we conducted a series of factory acceptance tests in conjunction with the APA team, ensuring that once the systems reached their destination it would be smooth sailing for the commissioning technicians.
The tailored system designed and engineered to suit APA’s unique requirements has ensured that these remote sites along the Northern Goldfields Interconnect Pipeline can reliably generate, store and deliver power to nearby pipeline assets. Each of the four systems was fabricated, assembled and tested, and then disassembled for labelling and shipping to site, effectively engineering out as much risk as possible and providing APA with peace of mind. The result is a modular solar energy generation system that is purpose-built for the unforgiving environment, and designed for stress-free installation and maintenance.
Custom Designed Modular Solar Package, including:
- Modular solar frame, designed with 3 side walls constructed from perforated metal, providing a weather shield for the electrical panels. The frame was engineered to wind region A4, Terrain Category 2.
- Purpose-built battery enclosure including lifting lugs for crane transport and forklift tyne slots so the enclosure could be lifted into place on site. The enclosure features removable front and top covers for easy maintenance access, an electrolyte containment bund, and a fused battery isolator on each battery bank.
- Valen 2V 800Ah OPzV battery – used across all sites and configured to meet the load requirements of each site. Battery equalisers are supplied for each site to ensure system balance.
Victron SmartEnergy 150/100 Solar Regulators will be used across all sites.