NT communities go solar

SOLAR Systems has been chosen by the Australian and Northern Territory governments to build three solar power stations at the isolated NT Indigenous communities of Alekerange, Ti Tree and Kalkarindji.
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$10.8 million has been allocated to the construction of two 280kW, eight-dish concentrating solar power (CSP) stations at Ti Tree and Kalkarindji, and a 24-dish, 840kW power station at Alekerange.

NT Chief Minister Paul Henderson said the new solar concentrating dishes at Kalkarindji, 480km southwest of Katherine, would help power important community buildings such as the town's police station, women's centre, health clinic and family centre, and schools.

Ti Tree, 180km north of Alice Springs, has a population of just over 200 and services many of the surrounding Aboriginal communities.

The community has expanding horticultural activities and some of the solar power generated will be used for water pumping and irrigation, as well as a horticulture coolroom, according to Henderson.

Alekerange's new solar power will be part of its Centrefarm horticulture development, which provides community employment.

"The additional power will reduce fluctuations in its electricity supply and will allow the community to install the refrigeration needed to maximise commercial opportunities from its farm," Henderson said.

Solar Systems estimates that the solar power stations in Kalkarindji and Ti Tree will displace a combined total of around 300,000 litres of diesel per year. The stations are also expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2000 tonnes annually.