07 June 2013
Renewables for industry
Resources and Energy Minister Gary Gray today announced a big program expected to generate 150 megawatts of electricity from renewable energy sources in regional and remote locations within five years.
At least two large-scale renewable energy plants of 10 MW or greater are expected to be built.
Resources and Energy Minister Gary Gray said in the Pilbara – where the cost of wind energy can be half that of diesel – energy demand is growing faster than in any other part of Australia.
“It’s no secret that in Western Australia we have a lot of remote areas and meeting our growing energy demand is a big issue,” Mr Gray said. “Where there is no grid-connected electricity, many communities and industries truck-in fuels to generate energy.”
Mr Gray said the government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is supporting these communities and industries to use renewable energy solutions through its $400 million Regional Australia’s Renewables (RAR) initiative.
The Industry RAR program will support the development of renewable energy solutions, including hybrid and integrated systems in off-grid and fringe-of-grid locations across Australia – enabling industry to generate industry from a combination of energy sources.
The Community RAR program works directly with electricity distributors to demonstrate technologies that can feed more renewable energy into community electricity grids – such as innovative energy storage systems.
ARENA may also support exceptional, high-merit stand-alone projects greater than $20 million. This funding is only for projects that will be real game changers for renewable energy in Australia. ARENA has expanded the Emerging Renewables Program to $215 million to help prove the commercial potential of technologies – to remove roadblocks and share critical knowledge that can advance the industry.
“Hybrid and integrated systems can add to the reliability of a renewable system by providing energy for a full 24-hour period, not just when the sun shines or the wind blows,” Mr Gray said.
“In the Pilbara, two state-of-the-art solar-diesel power stations at Marble Bar and Nullagine have been built – in 2009-10 the average duration of power outages to Marble Bar households was 38 minutes. In 2010-11, when the new power station was operational, it was eight minutes.
“In Nullagine, the average outage in 2009-10 was 110 minutes and in 2010-11 there were no interruptions.”
Mr Gray said comparisons were difficult but 150 MW of electricity could power up to approximately 30,000 homes.
The $3 billion ARENA was established by the Australian Government and started operating on July 1, 2012.