Spread renewables, government asked


p2342-Curtin-solar-6LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Sir – the Government’s Roadmap to Renewables notes that the NT has a high proportion (40%) of rental and government housing which has not taken up rooftop solar.

The Government should investigate technologies and business models to allow electricity customers to benefit from solar panels installed somewhere else than their rental property; and make Alice Springs a hub for solar energy research and development.


RePower Alice Springs is planning a community solar project for the town in which renters and others can invest for an attractive financial return, reduced carbon emissions and for the jobs such development will create here.


Harshini Bartlett
RePower Alice Springs



  1. Brunswick council had a scheme 30 years ago. You could round up your power bill or just pay any amount extra and it would go to renewable energy infrastructure.
    What you payed was tallied and the value of the renewable energy produced by your investment was deducted from your future bills.

  2. Major changes are needed in Alice Springs first.
    Commercial installations which generate excess power after business hours need to dump that excess and cannot feed it back into the grid, totally wasteful.
    At this stage they cannot sell it or even give it away.

  3. @ Ian Clarke: Your observation points to Alice Springs picking up on the next phase of the energy revolution – storage.
    In SA infeed tarriffs are half or less than grid price so there is a big incentive to store power.
    Depending on how much is being wasted the incentives are clearly less in Alice Springs.
    However, if there are savings in grid investment and the grid becomes more stable with stored energy available, there should be incentives from Power and Water. I think that in fact is contained in the Pathways to Renewable report.

  4. ReNu energy (formerly Geodynamics), a pioneer in the geothermal energy field, has several solar facilities up and running in several places in SA, Victoria, ACT and NSW all of which are based on community ownership and after the meter billing.
    This would be the perfect spot (Brewer) for such a facility if we can keep the red tape at bay.
    For more details look at their website. Several of these are based on shopping centres, and the largest shopping centre in Alice would be an ideal site to demonstrate what is possible and what is happening elsewhere.
    In addition comments about battery storage and talk of its shortcomings are quite premature and sometimes negative.
    Lithium is the favorite of the month at the moment and there is some around here in the local pegmatites but this will shortly be superseded by vanadium flow batteries.
    All the details of these are online at Australian Vanadium but the science is a bit complicated to the layman.
    This is an ASX listed company and worth looking at to see what is coming.
    Interestingly the emerging Vanadium / Titanium province at Mt Peake West of Barrow Creek brings the industry right to our front door, but not yet recognized widely locally.

  5. Covering the commercial car parks in town with solar panels would have a triple benefit, producing electricity for the shopping centre tenants, shade for the cars, and reducing the stored heat load within the town. Unfortunately we might have to do something to make them safe from vandalism first.
    There are several interesting emerging technologies for energy storage. Vanadium batteries are already in use, eg on King Island to store wind-generated power.
    A lithium battery is already planned for the local grid; and molten silicon is being trialled in Adelaide. It is especially suitable in a situation where there is a need for large amounts of heat, for example industrial laundries or other operations currently using gas for water heating.


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