BY ELIZABETH FABRI
NORTHERN Territory chief minister Michael Gunner has unveiled a Roadmap to Renewables plan outlining a pathway to increasing renewable energy generation in the Territory from 4 per cent up to 50 per cent by 2030.
The ambitious plan outlines 11 key recommendations that will assist the NT move away from its reliance on gas and diesel, which currently made up 96 per cent of its energy generation mix.
The recommendations included putting renewable energy as a central pillar of economic policy; creating an environment with policy certainty to attract investors; improve knowledge of the existing capability and capacity; publicising an asset retirement/replacement optimisation strategy for existing gas-fired generators; developing a detailed technical plan for the future power system; and engaging with the community.
Mr Gunner said the region’s abundance of renewable resources and existing gas power infrastructure put it in “the box seat”.
“The shift to renewable energy is inevitable, and the Northern Territory is uniquely placed to take advantage of this technological advance to deliver secure, reliable and affordable power,” Mr Gunner said.
“Increased investment in renewable energy creates jobs, and delivering cheap and reliable energy for businesses and families is a boost for economic development and population growth.
“That’s why we have accepted or accepted in principle the key 11 recommendations from the report.”
In the coming months, the NT Government will undertake financial and economic modelling to implement the recommendations.
“We want to ensure that market rules and technical requirements are clear and transparent so businesses have the confidence to invest and create jobs in the renewables sector,” Mr Gunner said.
“I am also announcing $4.5 million for co-contribution grants of up to $1000 to households to undertake energy efficiency measures such as installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, batteries, solar pool pumps, smart meters, efficient lighting, solar hot water, energy efficient appliances, and efficiency audits.
“An important part of this initiative will be partnering with community groups to deliver educational and awareness campaigns about being energy smart.”
The Government has also committed $1.5 million over three years to Charles Darwin University (CDU) and Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT) for renewable energy research and development projects, and a further $5 million over three years to fund a new energy centre in Alice Springs.
The Intyalheme Centre for Future Energy (ICFE), to be housed within the Desert Knowledge Precinct in Alice Springs, will become the knowledge infrastructure to roll out the Roadmap to Renewables plan.
Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) chief executive Lauren Ganley, who will run the centre, said it could be summarised in three words “collaboration, knowledge, and infrastructure”.
“We will be reaching out to create partnerships with stakeholders in the energy sector across Australia such as the Commonwealth’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and other enterprises who share DKA and the Government’s vision for robust energy solutions,” Ms Ganley said.