Alpurrurulam is a remote town located on the sunny and dry Queensland-Northern Territory border and 20% of their energy comes from renewable sources, as reported by ABC News last month.
The community achieved this thanks to the Northern Territory Power and Water Corporation. The group has been conducting trials of clean energy production in remote areas in Australia. The 240-kilowatt solar farm and wind turbines were introduced in 2011. Since then, the community has relied less on diesel generators for power to homes and businesses.
Local maintenance contractor Ben Olschewsky has noted that “consumption has increased significantly. We have had more housing, more infrastructure.”
More energy means residents have been able to install air conditioning units and refrigerators in the local store.
One of the most notable technical elements of the setup at Alpurrurulam is the innovative cloud cameras. This technology is used to assess the density of cloud cover in the area and act accordingly to draw more power from the diesel generators if clouds are predicted to interfere with the solar panel array.
Overall the project has been a success and the concept is easy to replicate in other remote areas in Australia. The Northern Territory Power and Water Corporation will continue to refine the model and install similar setups in other communities in the Territory.
Similar projects are also underway in other Australian states, with communities turning to micro-grid solar installations usually funded by solar research companies and government bodies.
We hope to see more of these successful projects for remote communities in the future.