Why has there been a limited take up on solar energy in remote communities in North West Australia when there is abundance in sunshine? The answer is money, which remote Kimberley communities are having difficulty accessing capital funding as reported by Science WA.
Other reasons are the ineffective government policy and the communities’ limited administrative resources. These are some of the barriers that that is preventing renewable energy being realized in remote Western Australia, this according to the University of Queensland.
As part of the study of University of Queensland study, they examined three remote indigenous communities in the Kimberley. Each community have a population of about 250-350 people. Following a detailed analysis of solar technologies that involves different cost-of-capital scenarios, the research concluded that fixed-tilt solar PV was the most financially suitable technology. However, they determined its viability in remote WA will depend on a few factors that includes the size of the renewable system installed.
They found that if the system’s capacity exceeded 20kW, it will require generation management, most often in the form of battery storage, which can be an extra cost to the community that will reduce the financial benefits of the project. If the power capacity is less than 20kW, these remote communities will benefit from solar power. However, it will be a different story to get technicians to travel to these remote areas to install the renewable systems.
According to Dr. Liam Byrnes, their research highlights the need to reframe approaches I energy provision and custom solutions to the local context. Over the next 5-10 years, he thinks that there will an acceleration in transitioning communities to renewable energy.