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Australia’s Solar Transformation

An announcement made by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) highlighted that the next phase of the Solar Energy Transformation Program (SETuP) is set to begin and is expected to be able to provide solar PV to 17 communities by November of this year.

The next phase of the A$59 million Solar Energy Transformation Program (SETuP) project is set to begin construction thereby giving remote communities from the Tiwi Islands to the South Australian border connection to solar power.

On behalf of the Australian Government, ARENA previously announced A$31.5 million in funding towards SETuP, which is jointly funded by the Northern Territory (NT) Government and managed by Power and Water Corporation(PWC).

17 communities across the Territory from Finke near the South Australian border to the Tiwi Islands will be able to experience 5.6 MW of solar PV rolled out because Tranche Two is commencing construction this month and is expected to be completed by November this year.

Solar PV will be integrated with diesel generators at 15 sites, including a 1 MW solar system at the Tiwi Island community of Wurrumiyanga. This will ultimately supply electricity to three communities on Bathurst and Melville Islands, via an interconnection project.

Once Tranche Two is completed, the SETuP program will be able to provide 10 MW of solar photovoltaic power into the energy mix of 28 remote off-grid communities across the NT.

Initially, 10 remote indigenous communities were able to experience the successful integration of 3.325 MW of solar PV into diesel power systems by Tranche One last year.

At the same time, Daly River also became the first NT remote community to be partially powered by solar and battery, as a 2MWh lithium-ion battery with a 0.8 MW peak output was installed alongside 3,200 solar panels in April.

Daly River, with 50% of its energy from solar, is an example of what can possibly be achieved by the other communities in the coming years.

Tranche Two would complete the roll out of this ambitious project and be able to bring renewable energy to off grid and off shore communities as said by ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht.


“As the largest roll out of solar PV to remote communities, this is a significant achievement that is four years in the making and one that ARENA is extremely proud to be supporting,” he added.

“This project will reduce the reliance on diesel which is costly and subject to price volatility, creates job opportunities in remote communities and provides renewable energy which can be expanded in the future. Each community will be operationally and technically ready to plug in more solar and storage as costs of renewable technologies fall. Over time, this could lead to very high percentage renewable power, driven by the lower cost of renewable energy,” he said.

PWC Chief Executive Michael Thomson said, “This project demonstrates how delivery of cost-effective, renewable energy may be employed to provide reliable power to remote communities, where both energy demand and costs are high.”

“Reducing our reliance on diesel fuel in remote locations makes economic and environmental sense. As these hybrid systems combine existing Power and Water assets with clean technologies, we are able to ensure service remains consistent while making a 15 per cent saving on diesel fuel,” he added.

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