Originally published on RenewEconomy
By Sophie Vorrath
Plans to replace up to 70 per cent of the diesel-powered electricity generation on Australia’s Lord Howe Island with hybrid renewables generating capacity and storage have received financial backing from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
The $11.6 million project, which commenced last week, will add a combined 1MW of mixed renewable energy generating capacity to the NSW island’s current diesel system, using a combination of 450kW of solar PV, 550kW of wind and a battery storage of around 400kW, along with stabilisation and demand response technology.
ARENA announced on Thursday it would co-finance the ambitious project, which was first mooted a decade ago, providing $4.5 million towards its cost.
“Lord Howe Island is 600km off the east coast of Australia and, like other remote off-grid communities across the country, is heavily reliant on diesel generators that are costly to run and subject to volatile fuel prices,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht.
Frischknecht said the project would transform the energy generation profile of the World Heritage site, which is home to a permanent Island community as well as being an iconic Australian tourist destination.
He also noted that the project would help demonstrate the cost and reliability of deploying a high penetration renewable hybrid system in a remote location.
NSW environment minister Rob Stokes, who appears to be walking the talk on renewable energy for his state, added his support to the project, describing it was another fantastic example of being at the forefront of efficient and effective energy solutions that deliver positive benefits for the environment.
“The NSW Government sees a very clear and certain future for the roll out of collaborative renewable energy projects such as this,” the Liberal member for Pittwater said, in a clear departure from the party script. “I congratulate both ARENA and the Lord Howe Island Board for their vision and commitment to utilising the natural resources they have in abundance, to provide their community with reliable clean energy.”
Interestingly, the Lord Howe Island Board has also recently called for expressions of interest from island leaseholders who are considering installing private, grid-connected rooftop solar systems (up to 3kW) before the end of the year.
The Board is offering to allocate a combined total of 20kW of solar PV generation capacity to suitable leaseholders, enabling them to apply and obtain development consent to connect their panels to the Island’s electricity network.
The EOI offer notes that interested leaseholders don’t need to have purchased a system, or selected a supplier or decided on a system to respond to the offer. “By responding they will commit to pursue the installation of Private Grid Connected Solar Panels to a maximum size of 3kw,” the offer says.