Experts visit Alice Springs to discuss national energy challenges

Nov 07, 2018

Australia looks to Alice Springs for answers

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The Aus­tralian ener­gy sec­tor recog­nis­es that Alice Springs is small enough to man­age, big enough to matter.

Fifty ener­gy experts from across Aus­tralia have con­verged in Alice Springs for A‑lab, an inno­va­tion lab host­ed by the Aus­tralian Renew­able Ener­gy Agency (ARE­NA) and the Intyal­heme Cen­tre for Future Ener­gy (Intyal­heme), a flag­ship project of Desert Knowl­edge Aus­tralia (DKA). Novem­ber 7 – 8 will mark the first time an A‑Lab has been host­ed in remote Aus­tralia. A‑Lab par­tic­i­pants will work to solve chal­lenges that con­strain the inte­gra­tion of renew­able ener­gy into Aus­tralian pow­er sys­tems. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Aus­tralian Ener­gy Mar­ket Oper­a­tor, CSIRO, Ter­ri­to­ry Gen­er­a­tion and NT Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion and oth­er research and indus­try organ­i­sa­tions will attend the event. 

The Alice Springs pow­er sys­tem can pro­vide valu­able insights into incor­po­rat­ing more renew­able ener­gy into pow­er sys­tems around Aus­tralia and beyond. Alice Springs A‑Lab par­tic­i­pants will work togeth­er to re-imag­ine and lever­age the Alice Springs expe­ri­ence to sup­port Australia’s tran­si­tion to a low-car­bon future. 

The Alice Springs grid is a micro­cosm of larg­er pow­er sys­tems, includ­ing the Nation­al Ener­gy Mar­ket (NEM), which ser­vices Queens­land, New South Wales, Vic­to­ria, Tas­ma­nia and South Aus­tralia. To achieve the North­ern Territory’s tar­get of 50% renew­ables by 2030, Alice Springs antic­i­pates that it must at least triple its solar pho­to­volta­ic capac­i­ty over the next decade. Present­ly, no addi­tion­al large-scale solar can be eas­i­ly inte­grat­ed into the Alice Springs net­work due to a range of chal­lenges that are fore­cast to affect the NEM in com­ing years. The size and iso­la­tion of the Alice Springs grid allows for rapid and afford­able pro­to­typ­ing that can gen­er­ate use­ful out­comes with­in two years.

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Intyal­heme Gen­er­al Man­ag­er Sara John­ston says A‑Lab is an oppor­tu­ni­ty for Alice Springs to play a star­ring role in solv­ing renew­able ener­gy chal­lenges that have nation­al relevance.

Based in Alice Springs, Intyal­heme occu­pies a unique space in the NT ener­gy sec­tor, work­ing to bridge gaps in rela­tion­ships, knowl­edges and tech­nolo­gies. Intyal­heme brings peo­ple and oppor­tu­ni­ties togeth­er to sup­port the increased uptake of renew­able tech­nolo­gies and reduce reliance on con­ven­tion­al sources of power.

A‑Lab is an excit­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty for Alice Springs to play a star­ring role in find­ing solu­tions to renew­able ener­gy chal­lenges that have nation­al rel­e­vance,” said Sara John­ston, Gen­er­al Man­ag­er of Intyalheme.

Bring­ing pow­er sys­tems experts, inno­v­a­tive thinkers and tech­nol­o­gy ven­dors togeth­er for A‑Lab is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to explore, devel­op and test new ideas that will dri­ve sys­temic change, in Alice Springs and nation­al­ly. We encour­age cre­ative think­ing because the ideas gen­er­at­ed at A‑Lab are going to inform real projects that will have a tan­gi­ble impact on the NT ener­gy land­scape,” Ms John­ston said.

Intyal­heme has part­nered with the Aus­tralian Renew­able Ener­gy Agency to deliv­er A‑Lab in Alice Springs.

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