Australia's Resources and Energy Minister Gary Gray says a new program aims to generate 150 MW of electricity from renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and hybrid plants, in regional and remote locations in the country within five years.
The Regional Australia's Renewables initiative, supported by A$400 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), could dramatically cut diesel use by remote communities and mining companies, the ministry says.
‘It's no secret that in Western Australia, we have a lot of remote areas and meeting our growing energy demand is a big issue,’ Gray says in a statement. ‘Where there is no grid-connected electricity, many communities and industries truck-in fuels to generate energy.’
According to Australia's Clean Energy Council, the new ARENA funds will support the rollout of renewable energy such as solar, small wind power and hybrid technologies in remote areas or those on the fringe of the electricity grid.
‘The cost of technologies such as off-grid solar is actually below that of diesel in many countries,’ says Clean Energy Council Policy Director Russell Marsh in a statement. ‘The opportunities for large industrial users like mining companies to significantly cut their operating expenses by switching to off-grid renewable energy are huge, and we welcome this move by ARENA to assist projects in this area.’