This article, by Sophie Vorrath, first appeared in One Step off the Grid, a publication based in Australia
The Northern Territory (NT) government has laid the foundations for plans to transition scores of remote indigenous communities to renewable-based power systems by 2030, with the announcement of $2 million in funding and a competitive tender process.
In a statement on Monday, the Gunner Labor government said it would invest $2 million over the coming two years to advance the delivery of “clean and reliable” electricity to remote communities supplied by the Indigenous Essential Services, of which there is a total of 72.
The initiative, which was part of the recommendations of the Territory Economic Reconstruction, aims to target an aggregate 70% renewables penetration in these communities as part of the Territory’s broader goal of 50% renewables by 2030.
The community power generation program has also been recognized by Infrastructure Australia as a priority initiative in its 2021 guide to nationally significant infrastructure needs.
The government said that, for its part, some of the $2 million in new funding would go toward the establishment of a two-stage competitive process to secure delivery of the renewable energy microgrids — including innovative technologies such as renewable hydrogen — following project assessments and community engagement.
“A key part of this investment is developing an open and contestable delivery framework to facilitate around $400 million of private investment in remote power system services to communities supplied by Indigenous Essential Services,” the statement said.