Australia: indigenous solar group for outback applications

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With the high cost of providing electricity to remote communities in the Australian outback, there are significant opportunities for photovoltaics to provide green and cost effective power solutions. The first Indigenous Australian solar company, Carey Power, has been formed to provide these solutions in the state of Western Australia and in the Northern Territory.

The Carey Power website reads: "Carey Power is already working with our parent company Next Power to become Australia’s first Quality Accredited Indigenous solar company."

Carey Power will look to provide solar solutions to a number of remote communities and industries including, remote communities, mine sites and camps, regional housing developments and at regional and remote government (Local, State and Federal) sites. It also hopes to install photovoltaic power plants.

Suntech will partner with Carey Power to deliver the modules for the outback applications. In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Carey Power’s Minnie Knight, who is a Torres Strait Islander, said that while the primary focus will be photovoltaics, the company will also consider other renewable technologies.

In the interview, Knight went on to explain the opportunity to train Aboriginal Australian’s in solar installation is also one of the drivers behind the formation of Carey Power. Describing the drive towards environmental sustainability in indigenous communities, Knight said: "Renewable energy and looking after country, it’s just a wonderful time."

Photovoltaics has been further incentivized in some remote parts of Western Australia recently, with utility Horizon Power introducing a location specific FIT program. Under the program, areas where it is expensive for the utility to provide grid electricity will receive extremely healthy FIT, the highest being AUD0.50/kWh.