The regional South Australian town of Coober Pedy is being totally powered by clean energy for the first time.

Coober Pedy has traditionally been mainly dependent on diesel generation, but its electricity needs are now being met exclusively by wind and solar power for extended periods.

Hydro Tasmania was appointed by Energy Developments (EDL) to help transform the mining town of about 3,500 people into a renewable energy oasis, through the Coober Pedy Renewable Hybrid Project.

The initiative was intended to allow Coober Pedy to draw 70 per cent of its energy from solar and wind, on average, with periods of 100 per cent renewable operation.

The project is performing slightly above expectations in its early weeks, with an average renewable contribution of more than 80 per cent in October 2017, and Coober Pedy running fully on renewable energy for more than half of that time.

Hydro Tasmania is Australia’s largest generator of renewable energy. Its Hybrid Energy Solutions Manager, Ray Massie, said the business is determined to champion clean energy around Australia and the world.

“This is Tasmanian innovation bringing clean energy to outback Australia,” Mr Massie said.

“Thanks to our Hybrid Energy Solutions team, Coober Pedy’s diesel power station now has containerised enabling technology and an advanced control system that lets EDL balance wind, solar, battery and diesel power, as required, in a stable and secure way.

“As well as our own expertise and technology, we’re using Tasmanian suppliers to fulfil this contract, which will inject several million dollars into the local economy.

“We’re breaking new ground towards an energy future that’s clean, reliable and affordable.

“Hydro Tasmania is proud to have worked with EDL and ARENA to deliver the project.”

The Coober Pedy Renewable Hybrid Project was made possible by an $18.4 million grant to EDL from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

It’s proven for the first time that major power station components for a hybrid renewable project can be fabricated and tested under factory conditions to avoid disruption, and then installed on-site.

The project also proves that renewable energy can power an entire town reliably and affordably without needing conventional “baseload” generation.

The Coober Pedy project builds on Hydro Tasmania’s own King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project (KIREIP), which led the world when it first achieved 100 per cent renewable operation using variable wind energy in 2012.

KIREIP has reduced King Island’s annual diesel consumption by 60 per cent, on average. A similar project is set to be launched on Flinders Island in December 2017.

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