How an outback town proposes to switch off fossil fuels

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The outback town Coober Pedy in remote South Australia will be able to turn off its fossil fuel generators for at least half of the year.

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oober pedy town

The outback town Coober Pedy in remote South Australia will be able to turn off its fossil fuel generators for at least half of the year under a proposed solar-wind-battery hybrid model to be built by the town’s main electricity supplier.

Coober Pedy – known as the Opal Capital of Australia – was last year named as the site for the solar-wind hybrid installation that Energy Developments says could be the template for off-site generation elsewhere in Australia, and indeed elsewhere around the world.

Energy Developments, the largest operator of off-grid installations in Australia, currently uses little or no wind or solar. But at Coober Pedy, under a program sponsored by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, it will install 3MW of wind power, 2MW of solar, and 1MW/250kWh of battery storage.

Energy Developments says this will likely reduce diesel consumption by 70 per cent, and could mean that the 3.9MW diesel generators currently powering the town can be switched off more than 50 per cent of the time. The town has a peak demand of around 3MW peak and an average load of around 1.5MW.

A typical day’s generation – with wind and solar – may look something like this ….

coober Pedy

Energy Developments says that wind and solar are complimentary, with wind blowing most at night, and solar –  of course- producing during the day. It says it envisages whole days when the diesel generators are not used at all.

This will echo the experience of Hydro Tasmania, which has introduced a solar-wind-storage hybrid on King Island, and is also proposing to do the same on Flinders Island. Hydro Tasmania is helping design the project

Energy Developments will call for tenders for suppliers this month, and expects construction to begin in October. It says that it expects the modularised design is scaleable both up and down for different applications.

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  1. Mike Dill 5 years ago

    This is how it starts. Double the PV in a year or two to get rid of the generator entirely.

    • Coley 5 years ago

      More renewables less diesel, absolutely, but keep the jenny for emergencies and hopefully one day,a museum piece.
      Can’t understand why more rural Australian towns aren’t embracing this, sounds like a no brainer?

      • neroden 5 years ago

        Habit, really. It is a no-brainer. But many towns simply haven’t looked at the cost recently. (Solar, wind, and batteries are all much, much cheaper than they were five years ago.)

    • JonathanMaddox 5 years ago

      Double the PV and they’d be throwing power away on sunny days, still not getting enough on the few days it’s cloudy, nor of course any at all each night. You’d need to double the battery first to make it worthwhile.

      • Mike Dill 5 years ago

        As PV becomes really cheap, you can throw away some excess electrons, The better answer is storage, perhaps in demand-controlled water heaters or AC units that can pre-heat or pre-cool based on ‘nearly- free’ electrons.

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