The former mining town of Jabiru has been powered entirely by solar PV after Queensland-based energy producer Energy Developments Limited (EDL) completed construction of a $77 million off-grid integrated hybrid power plant featuring solar generation and battery energy storage backed by diesel-fuelled generators.
EDL chief executive officer James Harman said the town, which had previously been powered by diesel generators associated with the now defunct from the Ranger Uranium Mine, had been powered entirely by solar PV earlier this week as part of the final commissioning of the new hybrid power plant.
“The Jabiru Hybrid Renewable Power Station is now providing the town with stable, reliable energy that is at least 50% renewable over the long term, enabling the community to realise their vision of being an ecologically sustainable tourism and cultural hub for the region,” Harman said.
EDL will own and operate the new off-grid power system which comprises a 3.9 MW solar farm and a 3 MW/5 MWh battery energy storage system backed up by 4.5 MW of diesel-fired generators.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner labelled the commissioning of the power plant a “milestone” for the Territory.
“For the first time, Jabiru became the first town in the Territory to be powered by 100% solar for a day,” he said, adding the renewable energy power plant will provide Territorians will be able to “access better and more reliable services”.
Gunner said the new hybrid power station is part of a $135.5 million budget allocation to transition Jabiru from uranium-mine support community to Indigenous cultural hub and tourism centre.
“We are investing millions into Jabiru to transform it into the tourism and services hub we know it is well positioned to be,” he said.
The 100% solar PV milestone follows a similar achievement in the Western Australian town of Onslow.
State-owned utility Horizon Power successfully powered the Pilbara community with renewable energy during a trial of the Onslow Distributed Energy Resource (DER) Project.
Horizon said electricity was powered by 600 KW of utility solar PV and 700 KW of rooftop solar, supported by battery technology.
For EDL, the Jabiru Hybrid Renewable Power Station builds on its success with the 56 MW Agnew Gold Mine microgrid project in Western Australia’s northern Goldfields region.
The Agnew microgrid integrates a 4 MW solar array, 18 MW wind farm and 13 MW/4 MWh battery energy storage system, backed by a 21 MW gas/diesel engine power plant.
EDL has also been contracted to build, own and operate a 4 MW solar plant and 4 MW/4 MWh battery energy storage system that will connect to the existing mini-grid at Weipa on Queensland’s Western Cape York Peninsula.
The new solar plant and battery storage system will complement the existing 1.7 MW solar farm and connect directly to the Weipa electricity network, helping provide reliable power for mining giant Rio Tinto’s Weipa bauxite mine and processing facilities as well as the surrounding community.
Construction of the project is expected to be complete by late 2022.
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