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Northern Territory solar project adds to diverse energy mix

12 October 2014

The Northern Territory is critical to the country’s rich and diverse energy mix and will play an increasing role as the Australian Government acts to capitalise on the nation’s natural economic strengths, Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said today while launching a new solar project in the Top End.

Mr Macfarlane joined Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles and Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) CEO Ivor Frischknecht to launch a $55 million solar PV programme in Darwin, an addition to the Territory’s energy mix which also includes a rapidly expanding LNG industry.

Solar SETuP is a joint Australian Government and Northern Territory Government project, which is being jointly funded by ARENA ($27.5 million) and the NT Government ($27.5 million) and managed by the NT Power and Water Corporation (PWC).

The programme will see solar panels integrated via a control system into existing diesel power stations to create solar/diesel hybrid power stations in remote indigenous communities in the Northern Territory.

“Australia, particularly remote Australia, relies on a diverse energy mix and this joint funding will ensure a total of 10 MW of solar PV will be rolled out to more than 30 Indigenous remote communities,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“It will mean a more secure energy supply for these off-grid communities and will create jobs and boost skills during construction and operation. Remote communities are disadvantaged by a reliance on diesel as the generators are costly, the fuel is subject to volatile prices, and the transport distances are long.

“This project - a great example of what can be achieved when governments work together - will further advance cost-effective energy solutions for off-grid locations right across Australia.”

Mr Macfarlane, who is in Darwin for the 52nd Australia-Japan Joint Business Conference, said that the Northern Territory’s energy resource endowment positions Australia well to meet increasing Asian demand while also meeting domestic needs.

“Our abundance and diversity of energy assets, including existing and potential projects across the Northern Territory, gives us the opportunity to consolidate our international standing as an energy superpower,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“The Government is consulting on the recently released Energy Green Paper which sets out a framework for the development of a comprehensive blueprint to ensure we take full advantage of our natural strengths in the energy sector.”

The Green Paper is one of the resources and energy matters that Mr Macfarlane will discuss with the Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles and the delegation of Japanese business leaders.

Mr Macfarlane will also present a keynote address to the Conference on Monday night which will outline how industry in both countries will benefit from further economic co-operation as the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) is finalised.

“We’re working to ensure that we have the right industry framework to benefit from a fiercely competitive global market and this includes a continued close relationship with Japan,” Mr Macfarlane said.

To read ARENA's media release go to: http://arena.gov.au/media/solar-to-power-more-than-30-remote-nt-communities/.

Media contact: Mr Macfarlane's office 02 6277 7070