The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has provided funding of $4.6 million for an $11.9 million renewable energy project, set to deliver benefits for a remote Aboriginal community in north-western Queensland.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said Ergon Energy is undertaking a 1 MW expansion of the award winning Doomadgee Solar Farm, resulting in 1.26 MWp of solar photovoltaic (PV) generation.

“This ambitious project in the Gulf of Carpentaria will drastically reduce the Doomadgee community’s reliance on expensive diesel fuel and secure its future power production with renewable, reliable solar,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“Ergon Energy will achieve up to 100 per cent solar penetration, displacing an expected 528,000 litres of diesel per year.

“The solar PV/diesel hybrid system will include an advanced control system with stability control and be configured to allow the diesel generators to be turned off, maximising the penetration of renewable energy.”

Mr Frischknecht said this was the first project to be funded through ARENA’s Community and Regional Renewable Energy program, which is designed to help key regional energy distributors feed more renewable energy into off-grid communities.

“ARENA recognises the importance of working with suppliers to deliver renewable energy options for communities that are not connected to the National Electricity Market on the east coast, or the South West Interconnected System in Western Australia,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“This project will help advance Ergon Energy’s technical capability to roll out high penetration solar PV/diesel hybrid systems into other isolated communities.

“It also has the potential to catalyse further investment in renewable solutions across Ergon Energy’s significant network, which covers 97 per cent of Queensland and provides power to more than 700,000 customers.

“Over time, this project – and others like it – will help drive down cost, making high penetration renewable solutions cost competitive with diesel.

“The knowledge gained and lessons learned by Ergon Energy, will be shared with industry to help increase understanding of remote high penetration solar-diesel hybrid off-grid systems.”

Ergon Energy has started work on the project, which is due to be completed by September 2017.

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