Alice Springs energy experts present a vision of the future

Feb 21, 2019

Services: Intyalheme

The challenge of integrating renewable energy into the Alice Springs electricity grid has been highlighted to experts all over Australia, in a recent webinar.

The Intyal­heme Cen­tre for Future Ener­gy was invit­ed by Engi­neers Aus­tralia to deliv­er a pre­sen­ta­tion out­lin­ing how Alice Springs is posi­tioned to demon­strate what a future grid could look like. 

Intyal­heme Gen­er­al Man­ag­er Sara John­ston was joined by elec­tri­cal engi­neer Clare Payn­ter for the pre­sen­ta­tion, which was viewed by about 500 experts; some in the room in New­cas­tle, and oth­ers logged in to the live stream. 

View­ers were giv­en an insight into Alice Springs’ long his­to­ry in solar ener­gy exper­tise. That exper­tise is now being lever­aged to address the fact the town’s pow­er sys­tem is at sat­u­ra­tion point, with regard to the inte­gra­tion of renew­able energy. 

By fund­ing Intyal­heme, the North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry Gov­ern­ment recog­nised that no sin­gle ener­gy sec­tor par­tic­i­pant can inno­vate across the entire sys­tem, and dri­ve the change need­ed to tran­si­tion to a pow­er sys­tem with 50 per cent renew­ables,” Ms John­ston said. 

Despite strong com­mu­ni­ty endorse­ment and invest­ment inter­est in Alice Springs, there is cur­rent­ly a lack of busi­ness incen­tive for devel­op­ing more large-scale solar. In its cur­rent form, the grid is fac­ing tech­ni­cal con­straints that lim­it how effec­tive solar can be. The frac­tion of ener­gy pro­duc­tion met by renew­ables in Alice Springs stands at eight per cent, and will remain there until changes are made. 

Pow­er sys­tems are very impor­tant pieces of infra­struc­ture and you can’t make changes with­out rig­or­ous test­ing,” said Ms Payn­ter, who works for Alice Springs-based tech­ni­cal con­sul­tan­cy firm, Ekisti­ca.

Sta­bil­i­ty and strength in the sys­tem is pro­vid­ed by a cer­tain amount of gas gen­er­a­tion. Chang­ing the sys­tem to meet the trend towards renew­ables is a long-term tech­ni­cal challenge. 

You have to be real­ly con­fi­dent that the ser­vices pro­vid­ed by the gas machine will be pro­vid­ed by some­thing else like a bat­tery, with­out any com­pro­mis­es in secu­ri­ty,” Ms Payn­ter said. 

Major play­ers in the NT ener­gy sec­tor are already work­ing to address these chal­lenges, and fund­ing is being sought for a large-scale col­lab­o­ra­tive project involv­ing experts from right across Australia. 

Lessons learnt about how to inte­grate more renew­ables into the Alice Springs pow­er sys­tem, will be applic­a­ble to the Nation­al Ener­gy Mar­ket. It has been acknowl­edged by indus­try lead­ers that Alice Springs is small enough to man­age, but big enough to matter. 

Magnify Dsc 0128

Elec­tri­cal engi­neer Clare Payn­ter and Intyal­heme Gen­er­al Man­ag­er Sara John­ston pre­sent­ed at an Engi­neers Aus­tralia webinar.

Tags: Renewables , solar

Other DKA Stories

New weather station to support renewable energy industry

Sep 10, 2019

Alice Springs is one of four NT locations to host new state-of-the-art weather monitoring equipment.

Our Bright Solar Future

Aug 08, 2019

Energy experts are working to break through barriers in the Alice Springs power system, aiming to enable more renewable energy to be generated.

Welcome Glenn Marshall

Jun 25, 2019

Alice Springs local Glenn Marshall to lead Intyalheme.