CORRECTED: The remote Kimberley region town of Derby has embarked on a solar and battery storage rollout, with a total of 283kW already installed across 13 community buildings and a 40kW solar shade installed at the local pool.
The solar rollout – alongside 1,100 energy-efficient streetlight upgrades – was marked on Friday by state energy minister Bill Johnston, who said it would save the Shire of Derby/West Kimberley an average of $170,000 a year on electricity costs.
Derby sits on the northern coast of Western Australia, around a three-hour drive north-east of Broome and has a population of between 3,000-4,000, nearly half of which is of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent.
The $5.2 million project is part of Horizon Power’s $75 million Renew the Regions program, and for the Derby part of the program, Horizon – WA’s regional utility – engaged Derby’s Aboriginal-owned solar installers, Remote Solar Solutions.
Horizon Power CEO Stephanie Unwin joined minister Johnston to mark the project’s milestones, including the official launch of the Derby Memorial Pool’s custom-made solar shade, called the Horizon Power Hut.
Horizon said the final stage of the project would see 364kW of solar installed at the Derby Hospital and the deployment of a community battery that were both expected to be completed in early 2022.
The battery, the size and storage capacity of which has not been specified, would ensure the hospital’s large solar system did not affect the ability for the local community to access renewable energy, Horizon said.
“This project has provided Horizon Power with an opportunity to partner with the Shire, local contractors and the community to give back something that makes a real difference, and which demonstrates we are serious about delivering energy solutions for regional growth and vibrant communities,” said Unwin in a statement on Friday.
Minister Johnston said that the project was also supported by the state Labor government’s WA Recovery Plan, which aimed to create jobs and support regional growth.
“The McGowan government is committed to working closely with communities to provide renewable energy solutions that will help reduce their electricity costs and create jobs,” he said.
*This article has been corrected to show that Derby is in Western Australia’s Kimberley region.