Solar Power’s Role In NT’s Economic Development Framework

Renewable Energy - Northern Territory

Solar energy and the Northern Territory’s future | Images : NT Government

Unveiled yesterday, the Northern Territory Government’s Economic Development Framework says solar is the most promising way to achieve the government’s renewable energy target.

A key component of the NT Government’s Jobs Plan, the Framework will help define the Territory’s economic development over the next decade.

“This Framework has been co-designed and developed with business and industry, community groups, the not-for-profit sector, Indigenous organisations and government representatives from across the Territory,” said Chief Minister Michael Gunner.

“The document is not an endpoint; it is one step in what will be an ongoing conversation and a rolling process of development, implementation, review and reporting on actions.”

With regard to renewable energy, the Government has set a target of 50 per cent of the Territory’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030.

“Given our natural advantages, solar energy is the most promising way to achieve this,” states the document (PDF).

Currently, the NT’s electricity generation mix consists of approximately 60 per cent natural gas, 30 per cent diesel and a limited amount of renewables.

The way ahead hinges on the Road to Renewables report, which will contain recommendations that the Government will base a strategy on. According to the Roadmap to Renewables web site, the Expert Panel’s report should be presented to the NT Government quite soon.

“Renewable energy could improve the competitive position of a broad range of businesses if it could be harnessed to deliver lower cost electricity than alternative fuel sources,” states the Framework.

“The sector provides an opportunity for Territory businesses to integrate best-practice technologies in solar power generation, storage and management, and this expertise could be sold by Territory firms to earn income from outside the Northern Territory.”

One of the high-level actions will be to support Charles Darwin University (CDU) and the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT) in attracting research and development funds.

Small Scale Solar Gets A Boost

NT’s solar power sector has already received a lift recently with the (now closed) Home Improvement Scheme, which offered vouchers of up to $4,000 for home improvements; including solar panels.

The Northern Territory is the best place to install rooftop solar power in Australia in terms of economic return, due to its high solar irradiance levels and generous feed in tariff.

According to the latest information from Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator, 7,213 small scale (< 100kW) solar panel systems are installed throughout the Territory. That number should increase significantly after systems subsidised by the HIS are installed.

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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