Ten Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory will soon be switched on to solar after the first phase of the $55 million Solar Energy Transformation Program (SETuP).
The program jointly funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) on behalf of the Australian Government, and the Northern Territory Government.
The commissioning of solar photovoltaic systems installed in the first 10 of 28 remote Indigenous communities across the Northern Territory has begun.
Solar SETuP’s first 10 sites, known as Tranche One, will generate 3.325MW of electricity through 10,000 solar panels and will save over one million litres of diesel fuel per year.
ARENA chief executive officer Ivor Frischknecht said the project is important in providing remote Aboriginal communities affordable, reliable and renewable alternatives to diesel.
“ARENA is excited to see the completion of the first phase of this ambitious project which will help these communities transition to renewable energy,” Mr Frischknecht said.
“We’ve seen the benefits of renewable energy off the grid with mining and we know Solar SETuP can deliver the same results for Aboriginal communities.
“This project is on a trajectory to transform the way energy is supplied in remote communities through hybrid solar and diesel power, which will allow for more solar power and storage to be introduced in a majority of remote communities.”
Once all 28 sites are completed, the off-grid solar and storage project will reduce reliance on diesel generation by 15 per cent and save 94 million litres of diesel over its lifetime.
Solar SETuP is also helping to bring job opportunities to local Indigenous people.
Local communities were engaged throughout the construction process, and local Indigenous workers were employed in flora and fauna surveys, fencing, installation and construction.