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Power and Water Corporation has secured conditional support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) for 16 community batteries on the Darwin–Katherine electricity grid. 

Once online, the batteries are expected to have a significant impact on local network constraints and will expand rooftop solar capacity, reduce emissions and keep power prices as affordable as possible. 

The $6.1 million Wurrumiyanga Solar Farm project is also a step closer to having battery storage. Testing of the battery, which was undertaken at Berrimah, is now complete. 

This project will provide an additional 1.1MW solar array, together with a 1.75MVA BESS (battery energy storage system). 

The project is estimated to reduce diesel fuel consumption by 519,000L in the first year of operation by introducing additional renewable energy technology. 

The battery has been prepared for transport to Wurrumiyanga, where work will begin to connect the battery to the solar farm in the coming months. 

The testing for the battery included simulating the complete loss of the solar array to ensure that the battery can cover the loss of the renewable supply. 

Member for Arafura, Manuel Brown, said, “The Wurrumiyanga Solar project has already helped the largest community on Bathurst Island bring down emissions.” 

“Now that testing on the battery is complete, we look forward to seeing the work to install it take place and learning from this project what can be adapted to other remote Territory communities.” 

The Northern Territory Government said that work is also continuing on the Remote Power System Strategy (RPSS), which will deliver an average of 70 per cent renewable energy to 72 remote communities provided with electricity through the Indigenous Essential Services program. 

In its Budget 2024, the Northern Territory Government invested $3.1 million in preparatory works for the rollout of more solar and batteries in remote communities, including detailed technical analysis. The RPSS aims to reduce the reliance of diesel generators in regional and remote communities 

Consultation has begun with Indigenous Essential Services community representative bodies including the Northern, Central, Tiwi and Anindilyakwa Land Councils along with ten regional councils. 

The Territory Government said that the feedback received during the consultation process will be incorporated into a detailed business case in the coming months. 

Northern Territory Minister for Renewables and Energy, Kate Worden, said that these investments in battery technology ensures that Territorians will have reliable power supply as the state moves to integrate more renewable energy into its electricity grid. 

“We can make these investments because the Territory Government owns our assets like Power and Water, Territory Generation and Jacana,” Ms Worden said. 

“Because we own our assets, we can keep the cost of power low. We also subside the power bill of every Territory household by $1500 a year through the Community Service Obligation.” 

Featured image: Community members of Bathurst Island, Northern Territory. Image: Jakub Specjalski/Shutterstock.com 

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