King Island showcases renewable energy solutions

The first stage of a world-leading project on King Island, with the potential to provide solutions to the challenge of supplying renewable energy to remote communities across the globe, has been officially opened.

The King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project (KIREIP) brings together a portfolio of new and existing technologies to increase renewable energy use on King Island, situated in the Bass Strait, and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. It is also helping to constrain power prices on the island.

KIREIP is an initiative of Hydro Tasmania and is being developed with the assistance of the Australian government’s Renewable Energy Demonstration Program and the Tasmanian Government.

Hydro Tasmania chairman Dr David Crean said solutions developed under KIREIP had significant potential to increase the use of renewable energy and reduce reliance on diesel fuel for power generation on islands and in off-grid systems across the globe.

“The aim of KIREIP is to reduce diesel consumption for power generation by more than 65 per cent and provide for the ability to generate all of King Island’s power needs using renewable energy when conditions allow,” Dr Crean said.

“The unique part of this system is the integration of technologies. Although the renewable generation sources such as wind, solar and bio-diesel are mature, the enabling and storage technologies are new and emerging.”

Hydro Tasmania’s chief executive officer Roy Adair said while it was normally costly to provide energy to remote areas such as the Bass Strait islands, the investment in renewable energy had reduced the operational costs of the system.

Mr Adair said the KIREIP solution could be established in other remote and off-grid locations around the world, providing cost-effective renewable energy solutions.

“Although there are remote area power systems in some parts of the world that are capable of supplying the energy needs of single homes or small villages, this is the first remote system on this scale capable of supplying the energy needs of an entire community primarily through wind and solar energy,” Mr Adair said.

Hydro Tasmania is seeking to export the energy solution to utility and mining customers in Australia, the Pacific and the South East Asia region.

Additional works to be completed include the implementation of Australia’s largest battery, the deployment of a dynamic demand-response system and expansion of the wind farm.

“Ultimately, Hydro Tasmania’s vision for King Island includes locally-grown and manufactured biodiesel for sustainable energy production,” Mr Adair said.

KIREIP will be completed by the end of 2013.