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Australian Northern Territories’ off-grid communities to experience solar power through SETuP

Australian Northern Territories’ off-grid communities to experience solar power through SETuP

An
announcement
made by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency
(ARENA) highlighted that the next phase of the Solar Energy Transformation
Program (SETuP) is set to begin and is expected to be able to provide solar PV
to 17 communities by November of this year.

The next phase of the A$59 million Solar
Energy Transformation Program (SETuP) project is set to begin construction
thereby giving remote communities from the Tiwi Islands to the South Australian
border connection to solar power.

On behalf of the Australian Government,
ARENA previously announced A$31.5 million in funding towards SETuP, which is jointly
funded by the Northern
Territory (NT) Government
and managed by Power and Water Corporation
(PWC).

17 communities across the Territory from
Finke near the South Australian border to the Tiwi Islands will be able to
experience 5.6 MW of solar PV rolled out because Tranche Two is commencing
construction this month and is expected to be completed by November this year.

Solar PV will be integrated with diesel
generators at 15 sites, including a 1 MW solar system at the Tiwi Island
community of Wurrumiyanga. This will ultimately supply electricity to three
communities on Bathurst and Melville Islands, via an interconnection project.

Once Tranche Two is completed, the SETuP
program will be able to provide 10 MW of solar photovoltaic power into the
energy mix of 28 remote off-grid communities across the NT.

Initially, 10 remote indigenous communities
were able to experience the successful integration of 3.325 MW of solar PV into
diesel power systems by Tranche One last year.

At the same time, Daly River also became
the first NT remote community to be partially powered by solar and battery, as
a 2MWh lithium-ion battery with a 0.8 MW peak output was installed alongside
3,200 solar panels in April.

Daly River, with 50% of its energy from
solar, is an example of what can possibly be achieved by the other communities
in the coming years.

Tranche Two would complete the roll out of
this ambitious project and be able to bring renewable energy to off grid and
off shore communities as said by ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht.

 

“As the largest roll out of solar PV to
remote communities, this is a significant achievement that is four years in the
making and one that ARENA is extremely proud to be supporting,” he added.

“This project will reduce the reliance on
diesel which is costly and subject to price volatility, creates job
opportunities in remote communities and provides renewable energy which can be
expanded in the future. Each community will be operationally and technically
ready to plug in more solar and storage as costs of renewable technologies
fall. Over time, this could lead to very high percentage renewable power,
driven by the lower cost of renewable energy,” he said.

PWC Chief Executive Michael Thomson said,
“This project demonstrates how delivery of cost-effective, renewable energy may
be employed to provide reliable power to remote communities, where both energy
demand and costs are high.”

“Reducing our reliance on diesel fuel in remote
locations makes economic and environmental sense. As these hybrid systems
combine existing Power and Water assets with clean technologies, we are able to
ensure service remains consistent while making a 15 per cent saving on diesel
fuel,” he added.