The two year project will focus on tackling barriers to further renewable energy penetration


ARENA supports Alice Springs project in Australia. (Credit: Pixabay/PublicDomainPictures)

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), on behalf of the Australian Government, has agreed to provide A$2.17m ($1.56m) to support the Alice Springs Future Grid Project.

With a total estimated cost of A$12.5m ($9m), the Alice Springs Future Grid Project is a two year project that will focus on tackling the barriers to further the penetration of renewable energy across the local electricity network in Alice Springs, Northern Territory.

The grid project is led by the Intyalheme Centre for Future Energy, a flagship project of Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA), and supported by the Northern Territory Government. ARENA’s funding comes through the Desert Knowledge Research Institute.

The funding for ARENA will complement the A$3.19m ($2.3m) funding that DKA received as part of the Australian Government’s S$50m ($36m) Regional and Remote Communities Microgrid Fund.

The project aims to supply nearly 30,000 people within the community with renewable energy

At present, the project has nearly 10% renewable energy generation and faces a challenge to overcome system strength issues to serve nearly 30,000 people with communities that stretch as far as 130km from the town.

Under the $9.3m project, various technical, regulatory, social and economic challenges will be addressed through a series of sub projects including a large scale battery system, a residential battery trial for up to 50 customers with the batteries being aggregated and controlled to provide voltage support to the network; and a roadmap on how the Alice Springs electricity grid could operate with 50% renewables by 2030.

Tariff reforms will investigate commercial and other incentives needed to encourage a change in customer behaviour to support higher uptake of household batteries with rooftop solar.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said: “This project would provide much needed support to help the town overcome challenges, and transition towards renewable energy solutions.

“This project will lead to the development of a tangible roadmap for increased renewable energy adoption in Alice Springs. The lessons learned will also contribute to the broader Northern Territory and other remote Australian microgrid communities.”

The Intyalheme Centre for Future Energy general manager Tristan Simons said: “Alice Springs Future Grid takes a unique approach to a multi-faceted challenge, in a rapidly-changing environment.

“Alice Springs is ‘small enough to manage but big enough to matter’ and we are confident the project will not only help secure a clean and reliable energy future for the town, but the knowledge generated will have a positive flow-on effect, well beyond the other isolated electricity networks in the Northern Territory.”