Australian holiday island goes 45% renewable with new PV array

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A new Australian project will demonstrate how island communities can achieve high levels of renewable energy penetration and achieve big savings on diesel fuel. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is partnering with Hydro Tasmania to deliver a 600 kW PV array and power management system to holiday location and A-class nature reserve Rottnest Island.

ARENA will provide AU$4.8 million (US$3.4 million) in funding for the project.

A part of the renewable solution will be an electricity load control system that will allow for the island’s desalination plant and water pumping facility to be switched on when there is plentiful renewable energy being produced. By doing this, ARENA reports that 45% renewable penetration will be achieved on Rottnest without the need for battery storage.

Currently the island draws its 5 GWh of annual electricity demand from five diesel generators and the wind turbine, which was installed in 2004. Summer demand is significantly higher than in the winter.

“This project will build on Hydro Tasmania’s efforts on King Island,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht, pointing to an island demonstration project off Australia’s southeast coast. “Six hundred kilowatts of new solar photovoltaic (PV) will be integrated with the existing 600 kW wind turbine and diesel generators on Rottnest Island by adopting the advanced control systems developed during the King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project.”

ARENA says that it hopes the approach will be replicated elsewhere in off grid communities, particularly when they rely of desalinated water.

An energy technology center will be established on the island, which is popular with holiday makers and school groups from the city of Perth, to educate visitors about the renewable solution.

ARENA plans for AU$3 million (US$2.1 million) of its grant to be recouped over the life of the project. Total project costs come in at AU$7.3 million (US$5.2 million).