A detailed plan to power the West Kimberley with renewable energy that could see savings of $14m a year will be unveiled in Perth today.
The Kimberley Clean Energy roadmap outlines how small, medium and large communities across the West Kimberley could transition to a clean energy future that would save money, reduce carbon emissions and create jobs.
The plan produced by Sustainable Energy Now used modelling of different energy paths to show that solar energy, battery storage and wind generation could out-compete diesel generators or fracked gas on cost across the region.
The plan was commissioned by The Wilderness Society, Environs Kimberley and the Lock the Gate Alliance and involved months of detailed modelling and analysis.
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According to the report, the Kimberley is currently powered by 94 per cent fossil fuels and by switching to renewables, a sustainable local workforce of more than 180 jobs could be created across WA.
Chief author of the roadmap SEN’s Rob Phillips said the modelling demonstrated how the creation of renewable energy micro-grids could save even small communities tens of thousands of dollars a year in diesel costs.
“The cost of renewable energy is coming down all the time so our savings are actually quite conservative,” Dr Phillips said.
WA Scientist of the Year and sustainability expert Professor Peter Newman has backed the plan and said the figures clearly showed that renewable energy provided a cleaner, more sustainable and more climate-friendly future for the Kimberley.
“SEN’s innovative modelling system is well respected in the industry as is their analysis. This roadmap provides us with a clear direction. I hope that the WA Government will give it the attention it deserves,” Prof Newman said.
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Director of Environs Kimberley Martin Pritchard said the plan even outlined how the proposed massive Thunderbird sand mine could be powered by solar and wind energy.
“We are on the cusp of a decision on the future of the Kimberley. If fracking is allowed to proceed then we could see a massive industrialisation of the landscape, the potential pollution of our precious water resources and the destruction of our valuable tourism industry,” Mr Pritchard said.