ARENA supports renewables adoption on telecommunications towers


The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is supporting a project designed to ensure energy reliability for telecommunications companies.

ARENA has issued $341,990 in funding to help Diffuse Energy to demonstrate the effectiveness of its micro wind turbine solution in ensuring power reliability for telcos.

As part of a $922,307 project, the startup will install its wind turbines at some 10 off-grid telecommunications towers. The wind turbines to be installed at each site are capable of generating 500MW of energy.

Telecommunications providers in Australia currently rely heavily on diesel generation to power their off-grid sites. It also leaves them exposed during natural disasters such as bushfires and floods, cutting off vital communications when it is most required. With resilience a major issue for the telecommunications industry, wind turbine technology is seen as a solution to keep these towers operating.

Founded in 2018 out of the University of Newcastle, Diffuse Energy will use the project to further validate their technology for the global telecommunications market which is expected to spend more than $3.4 billion on distributed energy solutions by 2024.

Diffuse Energy was one of seven teams that participated in ARENA’s A-Lab Incubate in late 2019, successfully using that experience to help develop their project.

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Joss Kesby, CEO of Diffuse Energy, welcomed the funding, saying with ARENA’s support, their operation could be scaled up.

“Telecommunication providers depend on secure and resilient energy generation in order to deliver essential communication services. The industry is also rapidly moving towards net-zero carbon emissions creating a very strong demand for innovative, cost-effective renewable technologies.

“A nationwide rollout of our wind turbine technology to these sites could displace 17GWh and 33,000 tonnes of CO2 from fossil-fuelled generation per year. Equivalent to $43.9 million in savings of diesel fuel, transportation costs, and generator maintenance,” said Joss.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said ARENA was pleased to support homegrown innovation in the private sector with real world commercial applications.

“Diffuse Energy’s micro wind technology offers an opportunity for a renewable energy solution to reduce emissions for off-grid telecommunications, while also ensuring the resilience of these towers in being able to operate at critical times such as during bushfires.

“ARENA is excited to be assisting an Australian startup in proving the effectiveness of their small wind turbine technology which could have large market potential across many markets and applications. While this particular project is focusing on communications towers, the technology could also have other potential applications including mining, small microgrids and farming.”