King Island proves renewables can displace fossil fuels from off-grid sector

The King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project
The King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project

The King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project (KIREIP) has supplied all of the island’s energy needs through renewable energy for a continuous period of nearly 33 hours, an unprecedented milestone.

Hydro Tasmania’s renewable energy integration project on King Island aims to displace the use of diesel fuel to supply energy needs, by using a combination of renewable and enabling technologies. According to KIREIP project director Simon Gamble, the fact an entire community – including residential and industrial loads – have been supported for a full day is news to be celebrated.

“Our system has successfully managed the peaks in energy consumption that occur throughout the course of a full day, including early evening when demand is at its highest and there’s no solar contribution,” he said.

KIREIP has achieved two full days in recent weeks of zero diesel operation, when diesel supply is completely turned off and replaced by renewable energy.

The project brings together a portfolio of new and existing technologies to increase renewable energy use on King Island and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Its success is being replicated through a similar project on Flinders Island, designed to prepare the solution for application internationally for remote and off-grid renewable energy supply.

“The aim of KIREIP is to reduce diesel consumption for power generation on King Island by more than 65 per cent on average every year, and provide for the ability to generate 100 per cent of the island’s power needs using renewable energy when conditions allow,” Mr Gamble said.

“Achieving 100 per cent renewable energy penetration in large off-grid systems has remained elusive until now, and is very difficult to achieve given the need to maintain reliability and security of power supply under highly variable wind and solar conditions.”

Until now, operation of diesel engines has always been required to provide backup to the renewable system. Hydro Tasmania’s hybrid system provides backup through technologies that do not burn diesel fuel, allowing for the diesels to be turned off and greater fuel savings.