Alice Springs Future Grid

The Intyal­heme Cen­tre for Future Ener­gy is bring­ing togeth­er ener­gy experts from the North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry and inter­state to devel­op a series of solu­tions which will remove bar­ri­ers to fur­ther renew­able uptake in Alice Springs. The project is known as Alice Springs Future Grid” and the lessons learnt will be valu­able for larg­er inter­con­nect­ed grids such as the Nation­al Elec­tric­i­ty Mar­ket on Australia’s east coast.

Here are some of the fre­quent­ly asked ques­tions when it comes to renew­able ener­gy in Cen­tral Australia. 


What is the North­ern Territory’s tar­get for renew­able ener­gy?
The North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry Gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to 50% renew­able ener­gy by 2030. This is mapped out in the Roadmap to Renew­ables Report of 2017.

How much ener­gy cur­rent­ly comes from renew­ables in Alice Springs?
On aver­age annu­al­ly, around 10% of the pow­er used in Alice Springs comes from solar ener­gy. At cer­tain times – e.g. in the mid­dle of a sum­mer day when air con­di­tion­ers are run­ning hard and demand for pow­er is high – Alice Springs can reach up to 50% solar. Gas engines con­tribute most of the pow­er gen­er­a­tion in Alice Springs.

Why are we not already at 50% solar, or more, in such a sun­ny part of the world?
Alice Springs is an iso­lat­ed pow­er sys­tem, so all the ser­vices need­ed to run the grid have to be pro­vid­ed local­ly. In all pow­er sys­tems, gen­er­a­tion con­stant­ly has to match demand. On top of this, there needs to be enough gen­er­a­tors focused on main­tain­ing a sta­ble pow­er sys­tem (pro­vid­ing things like volt­age, iner­tia, spin­ning reserve and fre­quen­cy). Cur­rent­ly gas gen­er­a­tors do most of this work. Tran­si­tion­ing to renew­able ener­gy requires care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion to main­tain a reli­able pow­er network.

Why can’t we just put in a big bat­tery?
Ter­ri­to­ry Gen­er­a­tion recent­ly installed a five megawatt bat­tery in Alice Springs, which is actu­al­ly larg­er pro­por­tion­al to our grid than the Tes­la big bat­tery” in South Aus­tralia. Cur­rent­ly, the cost of installing a bat­tery big enough to pro­vide ener­gy overnight is pro­hib­i­tive­ly high. The Future Grid project aims to under­stand the role that bat­ter­ies will play, par­tic­u­lar­ly as costs reduce.

Is Intyal­heme a bit like Alice Solar City?
Intyal­heme is build­ing on the suc­cess of Alice Solar City, to achieve next-lev­el renew­able ener­gy uptake. Alice Solar City ran from 2008 to 2013 as part of the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment Solar Cities pro­gramme. Intyal­heme is an Arrernte word mean­ing a fire start­ing up again”, which alludes to the rich local his­to­ry of renew­able ener­gy projects in Cen­tral Aus­tralia. Intyal­heme invites the com­mu­ni­ty to stay in touch and get involved.