A remote Aboriginal community south of Darwin in the Northern Territory will soon be powered mostly by the sun, thanks to a hybrid solar and diesel generation plant being built as part of the Territory government’s SETuP program.
The Daly River project will see the construction of a 1MW solar facility, that is expected to provide 100 per cent of the local Nauiyu community’s energy needs during the day, relegating the diesel generators for use only at night and as back-up.
It will be built by German-based solar giant, Conergy, and Queensland-based BMD Constructions, with construction set to commence soon.
As well as the environmental benefits, the addition of solar will mean the community is less susceptible to diesel fuel price rises and less reliant on fuel transportation.
The SETuP program, a four-year, $55 million investment by government and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency aims to bolster the energy production needs of remote communities by
integrating advanced solar and battery technologies into the local grid.
Nauiyu is one of the first communities to be chosen for the program – which is being rolled out by local utility Power and Water Corporation.
Graeme Marshall, who is program director with Power and Water, said the Daly River Power Station had already been the focus of a feasibility study as part of the Daly River solar/diesel optimisation research project.
“The community is ideal in demonstrating how renewable energy design challenges can be overcome in a demanding remote environment,” he said.
“We are hoping to gain valuable insight into how the integration of a hybrid solar and diesel solution into the grid can deliver even greater fuel savings to Daly River in the future as well as other remote Indigenous communities.”
The project’s remote location carries a number of challenges: from rocky geotechnical conditions, extreme weather, periodic flooding and limited logistics and transport infrastructure.
But these are not new to Conergy, which developed and delivered a 1MW integrated hybrid solar system to power a number of communities in the remote Northern Territory in 2012.
According to Conergy, this project has been contributing emission-free power for the last five years and was designed to provide up to 30 per cent of the average daily electricity demands for each community.