A new $7million, 1.8MW solar project in Alice Springs is highlighting the benefits of onsite renewable energy in remote Australia.
Australian renewable energy company, Epuron partnered with Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia (Voyages) to construct the project at a resort near Uluru.
The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) loaned $4.7million to Epuron to construct, own and maintain the 5,770-module solar array at the resort.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) also provided $450,000 funding support to Voyages to analyse and promote the learning and expertise gained throughout development and construction.
The installation is expected to generate enough power to cover up to 30 per cent of the resort’s daytime use, or approximately 15 per cent of its annual overall energy use.
CEFC CEO, Oliver Yates, said solar energy is playing a major role in transforming Australia’s energy future while reducing costs and providing greater regional energy security.
“This project displaced expensive and inefficient power generated using trucked-in fuel with clean on-site power from the sun. It was economic in its own right and better for the environment,” Mr Yates said.
“We’re pleased that CEFC finance has helped encourage additional private sector investment in renewable energy and is helping to build technical experience in this sector.”
ARENA CEO, Ivor Frischknecht, said the project was exciting and significant because it demonstrated that solar PV was economically viable in remote Australian locations.
“Voyages was able to build the solar installation with limited government support, using an operational lease model never before delivered at this scale. As a result, it will benefit from significant savings in the Resort’s power expenses over the next 20 years,” Mr Frischknecht said.
“The knowledge generated and shared through this project will help other remote and off grid power users to build on Voyages’ work and determine whether switching to renewable energy makes sense for them.”
Epuron Executive Director, Martin Poole, said, “This project builds on our track record with solar generation projects in remote areas. Epuron is pleased to work with Voyages and we acknowledge the contribution of our main contractor Complete Power Solutions.”
The innovative development was conceived by Voyages in partnership with CAT Projects, an award winning engineering consultancy based in Alice Springs.
Voyages and CAT Projects completed detailed feasibility and design, as well as the innovative contractual framework, and awarded the contract to Epuron after a successful tender process in 2014.