The Northern Territory Government has installed over 10,500 SETuP program solar panels across 10 remote Aboriginal communities.
The roll-out is part of the Solar Energy Transformation Program (SETuP), designed to transform energy use in isolated NT townships.
The government says the hybrid solar/diesel generation plants will reduce reliance on imported fuel by 15 per cent. In addition, it will prevent greenhouse emissions equivalent to one million litres of diesel fuel each year.
The 3.325 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) plants will provide an average of 5,000 kilowatt hours of clean energy per day and power 570 homes.
The scheme affects communities in Arlparra , Kintore, Nyirripi, Kaltukatjara, Mt Liebig, Areyonga, Yuendumu, Lajamanu, Maningrida and Ramingining.
Multi-million dollar SETuP projects backed by ARENA
Launched in 2014, the $55 million SETuP program is jointly funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
It includes $27 million in funding from the Territory Government. The scheme is managed by government-owned utility Power and Water.
The first tranche of the program, the rollout of 3.325 MW of solar energy to remote Indigenous communities, is now complete.
However, most of the sites will simply offset diesel generation, feeding power directly into the grid, without the ability to store surplus energy in batteries.
The second tranche of SETuP installations is due for construction across the NT later this year. It will involve advanced battery storage technology alongside megawatt-scale hybrid solar/diesel power plants.
SETuP program solar panels boost NT climate goals
The successful 1 MW Daly River solar-battery installation provides the local community with 50 per cent of its electricity needs. In addition, it saves over 400,000 litres of diesel each year, and provides a template for future SETuP facilities.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the SETuP solar panels would contribute to the Territory Government’s renewable target. The NT plans to have 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
“The Territory’s natural environments are some of the most spectacular in the world. It is important we do our part to act on climate change and work towards our renewable target,” Mr Gunner said.