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Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp MP
&
Australian Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources
Mr Ian Macfarlane MP

18 November 2003

Solar Power Boost for NT Resort


The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, Mr Ian Macfarlane have welcomed a new major solar power project launched in the Northern Territory resort of Kings Canyon today.

The Howard Government has provided $1.76 million to this project as part of its commitment to supporting renewable energy in remote parts of Australia, thus reducing reliance on diesel-powered generation.

Dr Kemp said that by reducing reliance on diesel generation, the 241 kilowatt solar array will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the use of diesel fuel.

"The Howard Government has also supported a 56 kilowatt array that was commissioned at the remote Aboriginal community of Bulman in late 2002. These solar power arrays provide approximately 33% of peak electricity demand at each location and diesel fuel consumption will be reduced by about 158,000 litres per year," Dr Kemp said.

"Approximately $118 million has been approved so far to support renewable generation in remote parts of Australia and the success of projects such as the one at Kings Canyon will lead to the implementation of more solar power generators in remote parts of Australia."

Mr Macfarlane said that remote Australia is a tough testing ground for these large-scale solar-power systems in hot-dry and hot-humid climates but that monitoring of the systems would provide data demonstrating the performance of such arrays in remote parts of Australia.

"Australian companies have a strong role to play in the implementation of innovative renewable power generation in remote areas and to use their experience to apply the technology both in Australia and overseas where possible," Mr Macfarlane said.

"Clever technology applied to projects such as those at Kings Canyon and Bulman not only reduces emissions of greenhouse gases, but improves lifestyles in remote communities by reducing noise and air pollution from the diesel generators."

Australian Government funding has been supplied through the Renewable Remote Power Generation (RRPGP) and Renewable Energy Commercialisation Programs. RRPGP is delivered through a cooperative approach between the Australian Government and the States and is administered in the Northern Territory by the Department of Business, Industry and Resource Development.


Backgrounder

Renewable Remote Power Generation Program

Many people, businesses and towns in remote locations rely on diesel generators for the provision of electricity. The Australian Greenhouse Office estimates that over 700 million litres of diesel are consumed each year in Australia for the generation of electricity in remote areas.

Due to the high costs of maintaining and fuelling diesel generators, many remote households make do with electricity only being available for 8 to 12 hours a day. Renewable generation (usually photovoltaic panels and wind turbines), combined with inverters and batteries can provide access to affordable 24 hour power.

The aim of the Renewable Remote Power Generation Program is to displace the use of diesel fuel used for electricity generation by increasing the uptake of renewable generation technologies in remote locations that do not have access to the main electricity grid.

Funding for the program is the relevant Diesel Fuel Excise (DFE) paid by public power generators in the financial years 2000-01 to 2003-04. Expenditure to the end of September 2003 on this program was almost $37 million.

The Program is managed by the Australian Greenhouse Office and provides Special Purpose Payments to participating States and Territories, (the States). Once the Australian Government has approved a Sub-Program, Major Project or Industry Support activity, it is administered by State Government energy agencies. Sub-Programs typically provide rebates of up to 50% of the initial capital cost of renewable energy generation equipment and essential enabling equipment that reduce reliance on diesel for electricity generation.

Renewable Energy Commercialisation Program

Accelerating the development and commercialisation of renewable energy technologies is a key element of the Government's overall renewable energy strategy. To support this objective, the Renewable Energy Commercialisation Program (RECP) was launched in 1999. RECP is a competitive grants program that provides support for strategically important renewable energy technology initiatives that have strong commercial potential. The projects offered funding were selected on the basis of the following criteria:

strong commercialisation potential (or, for feasibility studies and/or prototype development, a clear pathway to commercialisation); contribution to the wider development and diversification of Australia's renewable energy industry, domestically and/or internationally; and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

The response of industry to the program has been overwhelming with more than 200 applications received over the six funding rounds. Some 50 projects have been offered grants for many different forms of renewable energy, including photovoltaics, enabling technologies, wind, wave and biomass energy.

Individual grants are usually between $100,000 and $1 million and grantees fund at least 50% of the project costs from their own sources. Many of the projects being supported offer benefits other than greenhouse gas abatement, such as regional development, salinity amelioration, waste reduction and export potential.

The program also incorporates a $6 million Industry Development component to assist the development of a sustainable internationally competitive renewable energy industry in Australia. Current projects offered funding include assessment of renewable energy resources, development of standards for equipment, and training and accreditation of designers and installers of renewable energy systems.

Expenditure to the end of September 2003 on this program was over $27 million.

Commonwealth of Australia