The NT government has approved the development of a 25 MW solar PV plant near Katherine. Once completed, this Northern Territory solar farm will be the Territory’s largest to date.
It’s the first in a number of large-scale Northern Territory solar projects under consideration in the NT under Labor’s 50 per cent renewable energy target.
The $40 million project is a joint development by Australian PV company Epuron and Island Green Power. Government-owned utility Jacana Energy will buy energy from the solar plant under a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA).
The announcement joins a series of electricity market reforms recommended under the NT’s Roadmap to Renewables report. Commissioned in 2016, the roadmap paves a path towards achieving 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
Reforms to deliver cheap and clean reliable power
The government says it will establish the Northern Territory Electricity Market (NTEM), tailored to the Territory’s circumstances.
Designed to integrate cheap, renewable electricity into the Darwin-Katherine power network, the NTEM is expected to be up and running within 12 months.
In addition, government will review its small-scale solar feed-in tariff arrangements for households with solar power. The measure aims to encourage uptake of behind-the-meter battery storage for Territorians with rooftop solar.
This recommendation would also increase system reliability and reduce electricity costs for households during the most expensive times of the day.
Currently, most remote NT communities rely on diesel generators for their electricity. The report suggests expanding the highly-successful ARENA-backed SETuP program to create renewable energy systems in these regions utilising battery storage.
Northern Territory solar goal needs 450MW of new capacity
The report states that with careful planning and good governance the NT can achieve 50 per cent renewables by 2030. But it will take careful planning and regulation to increase from the current 4 per cent renewable generation to that target.
Reaching it will require a 450 megawatt-peak of additional renewable energy capacity on regulated networks. This additional capacity could be accommodated on just 700 hectares of land.
The report finds the Territory’s ageing gas power network could be an asset in achieving its renewable goals. Increased renewables, rather than old gas turbines, can benefit from fast response to fill supply.