Energy independence through solar efficiency is a step closer for the people of Daly River, about 220 kilometres south-west of Darwin.
Construction is about to start on a one megawatt solar facility near the remote Indigenous community of Nauiyu, which will meet 50 per cent of the surrounding area’s energy needs.
The Daly River project, designed and built by Conergy and BMD Constructions in a joint venture, will provide 100 per cent of the community’s energy needs during the day meaning diesel generators are only in use at night.
Ian Kirkham, Conergy’s General Manager of Hybrid Solar and EPC said the remoteness of the project means there are a number of project challenges.
“Both Conergy and BMD Constructions are grateful the Northern Territory’s Power and Water Corporation and the Daly River community have put enormous faith in us,” Mr Kirkham said.
“Conergy’s whole purpose is to enable communities to develop and prosper by harnessing the power of the sun.
“We’ve both worked very hard to get the design and proposed delivery of the project right.”
The project has overcome some significant inherent design challenges such as rocky geotechnical conditions, the remoteness of the site, and periodic flooding of roads.
“We’re very experienced in the delivery of large-scale solar systems, often in regions that experience extremes in weather, particularly in places like the Northern Territory,” Mr Kirkham said
Nauiyu is one of the first Northern Territory communities to be chosen for the Solar SETuP program. Delivered by Power and Water Corporation, Solar SETuP is a four-year, $55 million investment by the Northern Territory Government and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
It aims to bolster the energy production needs of remote communities through integrating advanced solar and battery technologies into the local grid.
Apart from the local air quality benefits, the reduction in fuel use means the community is less susceptible to diesel fuel price rises and less reliant on fuel transportation.
Mr Graeme Marshall, Program Director with Power and Water said the Daly River Power Station was chosen because it had already been the focus of a feasibility study as part of the Daly River solar/diesel optimisation research project.
“The community is ideal in demonstrating how renewable energy design challenges can be overcome in a demanding remote environment,” Mr Marshall said.
“We are hoping to gain valuable insight into how the integration of a hybrid solar and diesel solution into the grid can deliver even greater fuel savings to Daly River in the future as well as other remote Indigenous communities.”
In 2012 Conergy developed and delivered the first integrated hybrid solar system into three remote communities in the Northern Territory for Power and Water.
The 1MW combined TKLN project was a first of its kind in Australia, taking its name from an abbreviation of the three communities – Ti Tree, Kalkarindgi and Lake Nash.
The project has been contributing emission-free power to these communities for the last five years and was designed to provide up to 30 per cent of the average daily electricity demands for each community.
Conergy is also the project owner and developer of the Lakeland Solar & Storage project, which is being built by BMD Constructions, and is the southern hemisphere’s first utility-scale solar, storage and fringe-of-grid facility.
The project, on a 23-hectare site at Lakeland, will provide enough energy day and night to power more than 3,000 homes and will connect to Ergon Energy’s existing substation – one of the most remote National Electricity Market (NEM) connected substations in Australia.