Australia Defence taps solar, battery storage for NT base, in push away from fossil fuels

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Department of Defence tenders for 1-1.5MW solar plus battery storage for Jindalee Transmitting Site north-east of Alice Springs, to “reduce reliance on fossil fuels.”

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Australia’s Department of Defence is looking to shift a key communications facility in the Northern Territory from diesel to solar and battery storage, as part of a major upgrade of the base near Harts Range, north-east of Alice Springs.

In a tender published last week, the department calls for expressions of interest to construct a solar PV system of between 1-1.5MW in size to supply the Jindalee Transmitting Site – home to the Jindalee Operational Radar Network, which detects and tracks air and sea targets, and which is currently undergoing $1.2 billion in improvements.

The tender calls for the creation of the hybrid energy system combining the existing diesel power station, a battery energy storage system (BESS), metering and ultra-capacitors to deliver “considerable power quality” and manage a range of technical issues, including transient loads.

But the primary objective of the project, the tender documents say, “is to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels for the site’s energy needs.”

Other project objectives listed by the Department include improving energy security by generating renewable power on site; cutting fuel purchase costs; reducing Defence’s greenhouse gas emissions; and boosting the department’s expertise and experience in large-scale renewables development.

Defence made its first major push into solar in October last year, when it sought to install a solar power system at its Satellite Communications Station (ADSCS) at Kojarena, near Geraldton, in Western Australia.

In that case, the tender called for a 1.2MW solar system to reduce the station’s reliance on the main grid, known as the South-West Interconnected System (SWIS), and to boost energy security at its installations.

As those tender documents noted, Defence is the biggest user of energy in the federal government, but was “uniquely” positioned to be able to integrate renewable energy on its vast “estate”.

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