We love our sunburnt country, our land of sweeping plains.
And the great thing is - sunshine burns bright across those plains. Sunshine we can harness, no matter where we are, to power our communities, lives and economies. But the practicalities of how to do this can mean different things for different parts of Australia. And of course, each region has its own unique challenges.
For a long time remote communities who find themselves at the edge of the grid, or in fact way past the edge and off the grid, have been reliant on diesel fuel to power their lives and work. But diesel doesn’t provide much certainty, its price fluctuates, it’s transported in large tankers that struggle to reach their destination through storms or wet weather. And diesel fuel is also bad for us, it lets out harmful emissions into our atmosphere and minute particles which have shown to be harmful to people’s health.
A big project, funded by ARENA and the Northern Territory government, is working to implement renewable solutions for communities previously powered by diesel in remote Northern Territory. The project started 4 years ago and is introducing a total of 10 MW of solutions across 30 different communities.
Most of these installations will reduce those communities’ reliance on diesel by a jolly decent 15%. But one system, in particular, installed near the Aboriginal community of Nauiyu, approximately 220km south west of Darwin, will provide 100% of the communities’ energy needs during the day. This 1MW high penetration system with an 800kW battery will enable the community to reduce its diesel use by 50%. This is doubly good news because not only is diesel difficult to provide to remote areas such as this, installing solar arrays in such locations is no mean feat either. The solar-construction team had to overcome challenges such as rocky geotechnical conditions, and periodic flooding, in order to complete the installation. The result is more than worth the effort, however: it’s now saving both the environmental and financial costs of burning 400,000 litres of diesel a year.
Importantly, the project demonstrates how different remote communities can use a range of technology to power their lives in a sustainable way. And it also proves that wherever the sun goes, renewables (with a little help from some friends) can go too!
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