Coober Pedy in the Far North of South Australia, hosting a population of around 3,000 people, derives it’s electricity from a 3.9 MW diesel power station, and a 0.15MW wind turbine.
Power capacity in the small desert town is set to increase to a massive 8.9 MW pending outcomes of today’s announcement that the Australian Renewable Energy Agency has approved $18.5 million of support for a renewable energy, diesel hybrid project at Coober Pedy in South Australia.
The project is subject to a final investment decision by power provider Energy Developments Limited (EDL), along with approvals and agreements. If approved, completion is anticipated in mid-2017.
ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said Energy Developments Limited (EDL) is proposing to combine wind, solar and diesel to provide the town with 70 per cent renewable energy over the life of the project.
“With ARENA’s support, EDL is seeking to integrate up to 2 MW of solar PV, 3 MW of wind generation and enabling technologies into its existing 3.9 MW diesel power station at Coober Pedy,” Mr Frischknecht said.
This ambitious project may demonstrate a combined approach for powering off-grid Australian communities that currently rely solely on expensive trucked-in diesel.
Yanni Athanasiadis, the Vice Chairman of Coober Pedy’s Retail Business and Tourism Association said today, “This is very good news for Coober Pedy that ARENA have allocated $18.5M towards a potential renewable energy diesel hybrid plant.”
“The South Australian Government did keep their election promise and restore power subsidies for 10 remote communities in the state.”
“We hope that EDL our energy provider makes a favourable decision for the investment here and the project goes ahead.”
EDL says it intends to restructure its existing power purchasing agreement with the District Council of Coober Pedy with a new 20-year agreement, providing a long-term customer base to support the renewable energy project.
Vice President of Coober Pedy Opal Miners Association John Dunstan said that the Miners Associaton has offered to allow the Solar and Wind infrastructure to be situated on a site opposite the existing power station, that the Association uses for it’s own industry purposes.
“If it’s going to help bring cheaper power to the Coober Pedy residents and businesses, the Miners Association are very willing to allow the installations of the 2 MW of solar PV, 3 MW of wind generation on it’s land.”
“Currently EDL have erected a wind monitor at the location to monitor wind speeds at Coober Pedy for the next 12 months to help determine what size turbines will be used”, said Dunstan.
“Coober Pedy’s current wind turbine is 0.15MW but these new turbines will be over twice the size.” he said.
.Mr Frischknecht said the project will include short-term energy storage, fast start diesel engines and an advanced control system to enable smooth operation.
“These enabling technologies have been successfully tried and tested by Hydro Tasmania at the ARENA-supported King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project and this represents an opportunity to see them evolve for use on the mainland and in an outback community that has few alternative energy options,” Mr Frischknecht said.
“Further demonstration of these technologies is expected to reduce costs over time and improve opportunities for future deployment without subsidies.
“EDL has identified a long-term pathway to commercialisation by demonstrating the potential to progressively deploy renewable solutions at off-grid locations as technology costs reduce and fossil fuel costs increase.
“Australia’s energy demand is growing off the grid and this landmark project will show how high penetration renewable energy projects can deliver safe, reliable power to off-grid communities.”