Human settlements

Renewable energy

Solar photovoltaics 08: Solar photovoltaic systems in Northern Territory remote power stations

Renewable Energy Commercialisation in Australia, Australian Greenhouse Office, 2003
NOTE: The status of these projects will have changed since the time of publication, and project contacts may also have changed.

Mackay Sugar is installing a dewatering station that will increase the efficiency of the conversion of bagasse to renewable electricity.

The installation of a system using a combination of solar PV and diesel technology at all remote Northern Territory diesel power stations could save $1.75 million in diesel fuel and over 7,100 tonnes in CO2 emission annually.

The Northern Territory Power and Water Corporation (PAWC) considers possibilities for renewable energy generation where commercially appropriate as part of its investment assessment procedures.

PAWC has been an industry leader in remote-area power developments, and its Jilkminggan demonstration site for solar technology has confirmed that, by adding around 30 per cent of photovoltaic (PV) generation capacity, peak demand on a diesel system is reduced. Instead of running a large diesel set at low load (e.g. 40 per cent), a smaller diesel set can be run at optimal load (e.g. 75 to 90 per cent). The economic and environmental savings from this are significant.

With the assistance of a $500,000 grant under the Renewable Energy Commercialisation Program, the solar photovoltaic systems project aims to demonstrate the commercial viability of peak lopping using an optimal mix of solar and diesel technology. The resultant hybrid system will lower fuel costs, reduce operation and maintenance costs, and provide greenhouse gas abatement benefits.

The most favourable locations for renewable energy are the diesel-fuelled power stations in remote communities. Accordingly, PAWC has made a commitment to install PV systems in Bulman and Kings Canyon power stations. These locations were selected because of their differences and also their similarities.

Bulman is a remote Aboriginal community (160kW maximum demand) in the tropical zone, whereas Kings Canyon is a large resort servicing a national park (650kW maximum demand) in the arid zone. These differences will demonstrate for future commercial projects the prospects for hybrid systems under different climatic and load profile conditions across the Territory. The Kings Canyon site will expose this innovative arid-zone technology to thousands of visitors to the national park every year, thereby helping promote sustainable energy principles to the wider community.

Current generation costs for Bulman and Kings Canyon are higher than the average for Northern Territory remote communities. This will maximise the economic benefit that can be realised from the project. Both are outside any potential areas for wind generation.

The project will be built, owned and operated by PAWC with the aid of Northern Territory contractors and, where economically feasible, Australian materials will be used. The Northern Territory Centre for Energy Research will carry out the majority of design work. PAWC sponsored the establishment of the centre to undertake research and development of appropriate energy technologies. The construction work will be let by tender, and the employment of workers from Aboriginal communities will be encouraged.

PAWC will seek to replicate the concept in other locations in the Northern Territory, including remote communities, Aboriginal outstations and some mining sites, and in isolated diesel-fuelled sites in South-East Asia.

As an indication of the economic and environmental significance of the scheme, similar installations at all remote Territory diesel power stations could save $1.75 million in diesel fuel and over 7,100 tonnes in CO2 emission annually.

This renewable energy project has economic, technological and social benefits for PAWC and the Northern Territory. The solar PV system will provide employment and increase the knowledge base in the renewable energy industry.

For more information please contact

Trevor Horman
Power and Water Corporation
18-20 Cavenagh Street
Darwin NT 0812
Tel (08) 8924 7093
Fax (08) 8924 7222

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