Hydro Tasmania’s new project will deliver power and water to Rottnest Island using renewable energy from the island’s desalination plant and water storage facilities.

The Rottnest Island Water and Renewable Energy Nexus Project (WREN) aims to deliver electricity and clean water at a lower cost, and with lower emissions, through innovative use of renewable energy and smart controls.

Hydro Tasmania’s Manager of Hybrid Off-Grid Solutions, Simon Gamble, said the project involved “Sophisticated smart controls that will automate the desalination plant to operate at maximum capacity when wind and solar energy are most abundant, and store treated water for the use of times of lower renewable energy availability.”

Mr Gamble said that by running the plant on renewables rather than diesel it will reduce the cost and emissions intensity of producing the island’s drinking water.

“It will focus on controlling the timing of an energy-intensive activity – running the island’s desalination plant – to make the best use of renewable energy when it is most abundant,” Mr Gamble said.

Rottnest Island, like many remote or island locations, currently relies heavily on diesel fuel to supply its energy needs.

Dr Gardiner said this project will reduce the community’s reliance on diesel. Currently, the island’s power consumption, 5 GWh per year, is provided by five conventional diesel engines, two low-load diesel engines, and a single 600 kW wind turbine.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will provide up to $4.8million in funding to WREN, a $7.3 million project.

ARENA CEO, Ivor Fischknecht, said “Six hundred kilowatts of new solar photovoltaic (PV) will be integrated with the existing 600kW wind turbine and diesel generators of Rottnest Island by adopting advanced control systems.”

Once up and running, the hybrid power system will achieve 45 per cent renewable energy penetration, when combined with smart demand-management of the desalination plant.

Engineers Australia Tasmania Division General Manager, Dr Vicki Gardiner, said the project was a “Reflection of Hydro Tasmania’s innovation program and its commitment to providing energy security solutions to remote communities.”

The Rottnest Island Water and Renewable Energy Nexus Project will be completed by May 2017. 

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