Australia’s Alice Springs prepares for future grid with $9.3 million pilot


The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced AUS$2.17 million in funding to support the Alice Springs Future Grid Project.

The two-year $9.3 million project is expected to help Alice Springs to address barriers to further renewable energy penetration in its local electricity network.

The project is led by the Intyalheme Centre for Future Energy, a flagship project of Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) and supported by the Northern Territory Government.

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As part of the project, CSIRO, Ekistica, Power and Water Corporation, Territory Generation, ARENA and the Northern Territory Government will address technical, regulatory, social and economic challenges associated with the energy transition.

Projects to be deployed will include:

  • A large scale battery system
  • A residential battery trial for up to 50 customers, with batteries aggregated and controlled to provide voltage support to the network
  • Tariff reforms to investigate the commercial and other incentives required to encourage a change in consumer behavior to facilitate higher uptake of household batteries with rooftop solar
  • A roadmap for how the Alice Springs electricity grid could operate with 50% renewables by 2030.

Currently, Alice Springs has approximately 10% renewable energy generation and faces a unique challenge in overcoming system strength issues to serve approximately 30,000 people, with communities stretching as far as 130km from the town.

ARENA funding will complement the $3.19 million in funding DKA received as part of the Australian Government’s $50 million Regional and Remote Communities Microgrid Fund.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said: “The lessons learned will also contribute to the broader Northern Territory and other remote Australian microgrid communities.”

General Manager of the Intyalheme Centre for Future Energy, Tristan Simons said, “Alice Springs Future Grid takes a unique approach to a multi-faceted challenge, in a rapidly-changing environment.

“Alice Springs is ‘small enough to manage but big enough to matter’ and we are confident the project will not only help secure a clean and reliable energy future for the town, but the knowledge generated will have a positive flow-on effect, well beyond the other isolated electricity networks in the Northern Territory.”