A total of 10MW of solar power will be installed across 15 sites in the Northern Territory, in the second round of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency funded SETuP scheme, which aims to wean another 28 off-grid Territory communities from expensive and polluting diesel generated power.
The SETuP – or Solar Energy Transformation Program (SETuP) – project kicked off last year, with the integration of 3.325 MW of solar PV into diesel power systems across 10 remote Indigenous communities.
The second round of installations will include a 1MW solar array at the off-grid Tiwi Island community of Wurrumiyanga, which will ultimately supply solar power to three communities on Bathurst and Melville Islands, via an interconnection project.
As we reported here earlier this month, the Daly River Nauiyu community, which was part of the first SETuP rollout, is now running on solar only during the day, after the installation of a 2MWh lithium-ion battery system alongside 1MW of PV.
Daly River is the only of the SETuP projects – which are led by NT utility Power and Water Corporation, and jointly funded by NT government and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency – to incorporate battery storage.
The system was designed and built by Conergy and BMD Constructions, and the battery provided by German company Qinous.
Power and Water said the battery was storing excess solar energy as well as managing and stabilising the grid, but most importantly allowing the diesel generators to be switched off completely during the day, and powering half the community’s energy needs with solar.
But in a statement on Thursday, ARENA said the Daly River system was a demonstration of what was possible for the other communities to achieve in coming years.
“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,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht.
“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.
Power and Water chief Michael Thomson said the project demonstrated how cost-effective, renewable energy could be used to provide reliable power to remote communities, where both energy demand and costs were high.
“Reducing our reliance on diesel fuel in remote locations makes economic and environmental sense,” Thomson said. “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.”
The $59 million project is jointly funded by ARENA ($31.5 million) and the Northern Territory government.