The solar array is being installed at the Goulburn Islands town of Warruwi, as part of the NT Power and Water Corporation-led Solar Energy Transformation Program (SETuP).
As we have reported, the $59 million ARENA-backed project kicked off last year, with the integration of 3.325 MW of PV into diesel power systems across 10 remote Indigenous communities.
As a part of that first round of SETuP installs, 1MW of solar was installed at the Nauiyu community in Daly River, south of Darwin, and a 2MWh lithium-ion battery system added.
The addition of battery storage at Daily River – a one-off in the SETuP project, done for research purposes – means the community can now run on solar only during the day.
The project’s second round will take installs to a total of 10MW of solar across a further 15 Territory sites, including 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.
According to Power and Water senior project manager, Andrew Gray, the Warruwi array will be made up of 560 fixed, ground-mounted panels, once complete, on around 1.5 hectares of land.
“It’s actually transforming the way that Power and Water is delivering power, going from basically diesel power stations to these solar hybrid stations,” Gray told ABC Radio’s Country Hour.
The system, which should take just four weeks to build, is expected to cut the community’s diesel consumption by “at least” 15 per cent, cutting the associated pollution and costs.
“Considering Power and Water has over a $30 million diesel budget, it’s big dollars that we’re talking about,” Gray said.
“For the community, there’s less fuel being burnt, so less pollution, there’s less barge deliveries… there’s less truck deliveries. So I guess in the long-term it will make the communities more sustainable.”
Over 25 years – the expected life of the solar farms – and the whole project, Gray added, NT Power and Water expects to save more than 90 million litres of diesel.
“So it’s quite a significant project; and as I say, it’s transforming what Power and Water is doing, I think, from now on there will solar diesel power stations or some form of renewable energy.”
Gray says the entire project is expected to be completed by April 2019, with 11 of the 25 solar arrays now online.
The utility also has two further and separate solar power stations in the early stage of construction – one at Borroloola in Katherine, and one at Timber Creek, roughly halfway between Katherine and Kununurra.