Solar Panels Helping To Power More Remote NT Communities

SETuP - Northern Territory

Solar Energy Transformation Program saving on diesel | Panel Image: Smaack, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

The Northern Territory Government has announced commissioning completion of 3.325 MW of solar power capacity in ten remote Aboriginal communities.

More than 10,600 solar panels have been installed under the Solar Energy Transformation Program (SETuP) to provide electricity to 570 households across ten communities.

“SETuP facilities reduce the reliance on diesel by 15 per cent, which requires fewer fuel trucks on the road and provides a more secure energy supply,” said Minister for Essential Services Gerry McCarthy.

SETuP is a $55 million program jointly funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Northern Territory Government, and is managed by Power and Water.

According to the Power and Water web site, a second tranche of installations will occur during 2017-18 in at least a dozen more communities. Another SETuP project is a 1MW solar facility to be built at Nauiyu (Daily River) that will provide the local community 50% of its annual electricity needs. The project will also incorporate a large battery system and flexible diesel generation.

Power and Water says SETuP will save 94 million litres of diesel over the lifetime of the program.

“Solar SETuP installations in unique and vast environments demonstrate how remote communities are paving the way to create a more reliable, cleaner, greener future for the Northern Territory,” stated Power and Water’s Chief Executive, Michael Thomson.

SETuP is contributing to the Territory Government’s renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030.

The Government’s Economic Development Framework published last month states says solar power is the most promising way to achieve its renewable energy target. The NT’s ‘Roadmap to Renewables’ report, which will provide government with specific advice, options and recommendations, was due to be presented to Government in mid-2017.

The Northern Territory also remains the best state in Australia in terms of economic return on small scale systems in many instances. NT’s solar feed in tariff is the most generous in the country – but systems are also a little pricier.

According to the latest data from Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator, close to 7,600 small scale solar power systems are installed throughout the Northern Territory, with just under 3,000 of those in Darwin.

In other recent renewables-related news out of the Territory, Government-owned corporation Territory Generation announced last month Vector Energy would be installing a 5MW Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) in Alice Springs. The battery system will assist in smoothing solar PV output on the network during cloud cover events and increase the capability for carrying more solar energy capacity.

The company says the majority of base-load electricity supply in each of its existing markets will be from renewable energy sources by 2030.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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