Australia: 10 remote Aboriginal communities add 3.325 MW solar

As part of the Solar Energy Transformation Program (SETuP), a AU$55 million ($43.45 million) off-grid renewables program jointly funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Territory Government, some 3.325 MW of solar has been deployed in ten remote Aboriginal communities, initiating their shift away from costly and polluting diesel fuel.

Over 10,610 solar panels were installed to provide an average of 5,000 kWh per day to power over 570 households across the ten communities of Arlparra, Kintore, Nyirripi (Waite Creek), Kaltukatjara (Docker River), Mt Liebig, Areyonga, Yuendumu, Lajamanu, Maningrida and Ramingining, which will from now on rely on hybrid solar and diesel power.

“The SETuP sites will contribute to the Territory Labor Government’s renewable target of 50 % renewable energy by 2030, by reducing emissions and creating a platform for greater use of solar in the future,” Chief Minister Michael Gunner said during a visit to one of the sites.

Managed by NT utility Power and Water Corporation, the SETuP program is expected to offset greenhouse gas emissions from over one million liters of diesel fuel annually and is part of a broader plan of transforming the way energy is supplied across to remote communities.

“SETuP facilities reduce the reliance on diesel by 15 %, which requires fewer fuel trucks on the road and provides a more secure energy supply,” Minister for Essential Services Gerry McCarthy said, adding that the program has created local jobs for Aboriginal rangers to conduct flora and fauna surveys and weed management, as well as land clearing and construction.