Alice Springs the $5 million link in Australia's future energy

A multi-million dollar investment in battery technology will lead a test-bed for next generation energy grids in Central Australia with the announcement today of a Northern Territory Government funded $5 million Intyalheme Centre for Future Energy (ICFE) managed by Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) in Alice Springs.

Local member for Braitling, The Hon Dale Wakefield launched the centre at the Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre (DKASC), a solar testing facility used by international manufacturers and researchers that will be integral to the development of a commercial micro-grid at the 73 hectare Desert Knowledge Precinct (DKP).

“Investment in solar energy and other renewables creates jobs, is a boost for economic development, and makes the most of our natural environment,” she said.

The announcement follows delivery of the NT Government’s Roadmap to Renewables report that seeks to supply a 50% target in renewable energy by 2030 without compromising network reliability, security and cost to the consumer.

DKA CEO Ms Lauren Ganley said Alice Springs’ isolation and energy expertise was ideal for the new Centre that would cater for both the needs of the NT Government and other interested parties.

“Alice Springs is Australia’s iconic capital of solar; and with enormous skills and know-how delivering energy in remote regions both here and overseas, we want to share this experience with the energy solutions market,” she said.

“Our Precinct is already making good use of our solar centre which provides 50% of our energy, and with this project which includes battery storage we aim to achieve 100% by December next year.”

The Centre’s name Intyalheme (pronounced ‘in-char-lum’) means a ‘fire starting up again’ and was given to the centre by the local Arrernte people.

Ms Ganley said the purpose of the centre can be summarised in three words: collaboration, infrastructure and knowledge.

“This means reaching out and collaborating with partners in the energy sector; building on the excellent infrastructure that already exists at the Precinct and the Solar Centre; and helping the energy community identify the knowledge they need, then develop and share it,” she said.

The Centre will undertake activities in a range of areas that are likely to be part of future power systems.

For example, this will include flexible micro and mini grids that are being rapidly adopted in energy planning for the resilience they provide during power outages and their advantages as discrete energy systems.

These systems consist of distributed energy sources, including demand management, storage, and generation and loads capable of operating in parallel with, or independently from, the main power grid.

A new General Manager, Ms Sara Johnston joins the organisation in January 2018 and a cornerstone $2 million investment in battery technology will see the centre fully activated by late 2018. Funding will be distributed over three years.

Ms Ganley encourages industry partnerships and further commercialisation opportunities.

“The Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre is a prime example of how DKA are able to work with industries and partners to develop knowledge and learnings in remote Australia that have value around the world,” she said.

“We are actively welcoming further interest and partnerships with industry and Governments across Australia including the Commonwealth's Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and private enterprises who share the vision of DKA and the NT Government for robust energy solutions.”

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