Hybrid energy technology to power Flinders Island

hybrid energy technology to power Flinders Island

Tasmanian innovation will see the majority of Flinders Island’s energy needs supplied by renewable energy within two years.

Hydro Tasmania will soon start work on developing a hybrid energy hub on the island – located on the state’s north-eastern tip in ‘the roaring 40’s’ region – that will significantly increase renewable energy use and reduce the importance of diesel fuel.

Renewable energy makes good economic sense for Flinders Island, which, like many remote island locations, is heavily reliant on costly diesel fuel to supply its electricity.

Supported by up to $5.5 million funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the $12.88 million Flinders Island project is the next step in off-grid hybrid system development. The system will be capable of displacing up to 60 per cent of the annual diesel fuel used on the island to generate electricity.

It involves integration of wind and solar generation with the existing diesel power station and installation of enabling technology, such as flywheel and battery energy storage, in a new form designed to drive down the cost of these systems.

Development of the Hybrid Energy Hub follows the success of the King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project (KIREIP), which has seen King Island’s energy needs supplied solely from renewables when conditions allow – a world-leading breakthrough.

KIREIP uses a range of renewable and conventional technologies to reduce diesel consumption for power generation on the island. The hybrid power system is comprised of wind, solar, battery storage, flywheels, dynamic resistor technology, dynamic load control and biofuels.

Project director Simon Gamble said the combination of technologies means KIRIEP can securely and reliably generate power for King Island, even during lulls in the wind or when the sun isn’t shining.

“When conditions are right, KIREIP delivers 100 per cent of King Island’s power from renewable sources, reducing the cost of providing electricity to the island,” Mr Gamble said.

Hydro Tasmania has worked with Tasmanian manufacturers to develop a series of modular units to house and ship the enabling technologies essential to the energy solution. This innovation will be developed and tested for the first time through the Flinders Island Hybrid Energy Hub project.

These modular enabling units will provide a lower-cost and scalable solution that will allow easy and rapid transport and installation for renewable energy projects, and which could also serve temporary uses such as in disaster relief or in the mining industry.

Fabrication and testing of equipment takes place off-site, ensuring a speedy rollout at the final location, reducing the risk, cost and duration of construction.

“The combination of our hybrid energy solution and the state’s skilled fabrication industry positions Tasmania well to supply these hybrid systems to a growing market throughout our region,” Mr Gamble said.

One such opportunity is Energy Developments Limited’s (EDL’s) Coober Pedy project, incorporating wind, solar and enablers, which aims to achieve a
70 per cent reduction in diesel fuel used for power supply to the northern South Australia town.

Hydro Tasmania has been assisting EDL with the development phase of this project, which would make use of the Tasmanian designed and manufactured modular enabling units if it proceeds to implementation.

The Flinders Island Hub project is due for completion in November 2016.