A new project to use solar and wind power in combination with storage and diesel at the town of Coober Pedy in South Australia would enable the community to get about 70 per cent of its electricity from renewable energy, the Clean Energy Council said today.

Clean Energy Council Acting Chief Executive Kane Thornton said the project, which is partly funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), would show that renewables such as wind and solar can vastly reduce the amount of expensive diesel that needed to be trucked into remote locations.

“I would like to congratulate Clean Energy Council member Energy Developments Limited (EDL) on a project that will provide clean and reliable power to an outback opal mining community which has to weather the constant challenges of extreme heat and dust,” Mr Thornton said.

“Reducing the amount of expensive diesel that needs to be used is a big win for these communities. It will also show other outback towns and remote mining operations what is now possible using renewable energy.

“As renewable energy gets cheaper and fossil fuels such as diesel become more expensive, these kinds of hybrid renewable-diesel projects start to make more and more sense,” he said.

The EDL project will add 2 megawatts of solar photovoltaic power and 3 megawatts of wind generation to the existing 3.9 megawatt diesel power station at Coober Pedy, along with short-term energy storage.

A similar system has been used by Hydro Tasmania in the King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project, but this is the first time this particular configuration has been used in the Australian outback. It does however build on the successes of previous projects such as a solar, wind, storage and diesel project built by Conergy across three Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory in 2011.

Mr Thornton said the EDL project was a good demonstration of the importance of ARENA in driving the next generation of Australian clean energy.

Please contact Clean Energy Council Media Manager Mark Bretherton on 0413 556 981 for more information or to arrange an interview.