Daly River is set to become the first remote community in the Northern Territory to be powered by solar and battery as the $55 million Solar Energy Transformation Program (SETuP) rolls out.
The Daly River site differs from other solar sites by incorporating a battery system which enables diesel engines to be turned off during the day, saving 400,000 litres of fuel per year and enabling a cleaner and quieter system.
Jointly funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Northern Territory Government and managed by Power and Water, the 2MWh lithium-ion battery will be charged by 3200 solar panels with 1MW peak output.
“Once complete, SETuP aims to deliver 10MW of solar energy across 28 remote communities in the Northern Territory, reducing their reliance on diesel fuel by approximately 15 per cent – achieving savings of up to 94 million litres of fuel over the lifetime of the project,” Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said.
“So far, more than 10,500 solar panels have been installed, providing 5000kwh/h of energy per day to more than 570 homes across 10 remote communities.”
The outcomes of the Daly River site are expected to guide deployment of more renewable energy in other remote communities as these technologies become cost effective and deliver further diesel and maintenance savings.
ARENA chief executive officer Ivor Frischknecht said the trial was important in showing how renewable energy can be a great way to reduce the reliance on diesel.
“As battery costs reduce over the next few years, solar and battery technology will become more and more economically compelling as an alternative to traditional ways of powering remote communities,” Mr Frischknecht said.
“We’re excited to see the outcomes of the Daly River installation which will help guide deployment of more renewable energy in other remote communities as the technology becomes more cost effective.”
Power and Water chief executive Michael Thomson said he was enthusiastic about the innovative program’s progress to achieve environmental deliverables so far.
“SETuP’s Daly River project is an effective demonstration of dependable technology use in remote locations in the Northern Territory,” he said.
“The cutting edge 2MWh lithium-ion battery charged by 3200 solar panels will generate 1MW of solar energy, powering half of the town’s energy needs, reducing the reliance on diesel by 50 per cent.”
Solar SETuP is also helping to bring job opportunities to local Indigenous people.
Local communities were engaged throughout the construction process, and local Indigenous workers were employed in flora and fauna surveys, fencing, installation and construction.