New weather station to support renewable energy industry

Sep 10, 2019

Alice Springs is one of four NT locations to host new state-of-the-art weather monitoring equipment.

The high res­o­lu­tion mete­o­ro­log­i­cal sta­tion installed with­in the Desert Knowl­edge Aus­tralia Solar Cen­tre forms part of the North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry Solar Resource Project (NTSR).

The NTSR project has also installed and com­mis­sioned weath­er sta­tions in Dar­win and Kather­ine, with an addi­tion­al sta­tion at Ten­nant Creek to be com­plet­ed and brought online soon. The loca­tions were strate­gi­cal­ly select­ed to rep­re­sent dif­fer­ent cli­mat­ic zones of the Territory. 

The project was deliv­ered by Alice Springs-based tech­ni­cal con­sul­tan­cy Ekisti­ca, under con­tract to the not-for-prof­it, Indige­nous-con­trolled Cen­tre for Appro­pri­ate Technology. 

Min­is­ter for Renew­ables, Ener­gy and Essen­tial Ser­vices the Hon. Dale Wake­field with Desert Knowl­edge Precinct Elder-in-Res­i­dence Harold Furber, DKA board mem­ber Rede Ogden, Eksit­i­ca man­ag­ing direc­tor Lyn­don Frear­son and CfAT CEO Dr Steve Rogers at the NTSR weath­er sta­tion in Alice Springs.

These sta­tions are designed to gath­er high res­o­lu­tion, high qual­i­ty, long-term data specif­i­cal­ly rel­e­vant to renew­able ener­gy research and devel­op­ment in the North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry,” said Ekistica’s man­ag­ing direc­tor Lyn­don Frearson.

They also pro­vide a means to val­i­date oth­er data sources, such as satel­lite mod­els, allow­ing solar resource mod­els to be refined for greater accu­ra­cy, reduc­ing the tech­ni­cal risk new projects are exposed to.” 

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The North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry Solar Resource project weath­er sta­tion, based at the DKA Solar Centre

CfAT Ltd as a local Abo­rig­i­nal com­pa­ny is proud to have been involved in the weath­er sta­tion project, an impor­tant invest­ment in achiev­ing the NT’s 50% by 2030 renew­able ener­gy tar­get. Our role in con­struct­ing and installing the Cen­tral Aus­tralia weath­er sta­tion sites has pro­vid­ed employ­ment and learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for our Facil­i­ties Man­age­ment team and Abo­rig­i­nal staff.”

Dr Steve Rogers, CEO

The sta­tions mea­sure wind speed and direc­tion, ambi­ent tem­per­a­ture, rel­a­tive humid­i­ty and rain­fall. Impor­tant­ly, they also mea­sure irra­di­ance, pro­vid­ing a foun­da­tion for the renew­able ener­gy indus­try and devel­op­ers to scope new projects, encour­ag­ing invest­ment in the Territory.

Data from the NTSR project is now avail­able to the pub­lic via the Desert Knowl­edge Aus­tralia (DKA) Solar Cen­tre web­site, which has streamed solar array per­for­mance data for the past decade. The DKA Solar Cen­tre is an inter­na­tion­al­ly recog­nised tech­nol­o­gy demon­stra­tion facil­i­ty. It is joint­ly man­aged by DKA and Ekistica.

Site selec­tion for the weath­er sta­tions involved iden­ti­fy­ing organ­i­sa­tions which were will­ing and able to pro­vide land, as well as sup­port for their ongo­ing operation. 

The four weath­er sta­tions can be found at: 

  • Desert Knowl­edge Aus­tralia Solar Cen­tre, Alice Springs (Live)
  • Kather­ine Research Sta­tion, Kather­ine (Live)
  • Hai­ley­bury Ren­dall School, Dar­win (Live)
  • Juno Learn­ing Cen­tre, Ten­nant Creek (Com­ing Online Soon)

The NTSR project was fund­ed through a North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry Gov­ern­ment grant under the renew­able ener­gy research and devel­op­ment fund­ing pro­gram. Addi­tion­al fund­ing was pro­vid­ed by the Intyal­heme Cen­tre for Future Ener­gy, a flag­ship project of Desert Knowl­edge Australia.

DKA CEO Dr Dan Tyson said the NTSR project was a good exam­ple of how Intyal­heme is address­ing bar­ri­ers to fur­ther renew­able ener­gy integration.

Intyal­heme con­nects gov­ern­ment, indus­try and the com­mu­ni­ty to form a col­lab­o­ra­tive net­work that sup­ports the dri­ve towards a renew­able ener­gy future in the North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry,” Dr Tyson said.

Alice Springs has a proud his­to­ry of renew­able ener­gy projects, and it is great to see the DKA Solar Cen­tre strength­en its posi­tion as a tech­ni­cal demon­stra­tion site of glob­al significance.”

Min­is­ter for Renew­ables, Ener­gy and Essen­tial Ser­vices, the Hon. Dale Wake­field, offi­cial­ly launched the project at the Alice Springs weath­er sta­tion on Tues­day Sep­tem­ber 10. The event includ­ed a Wel­come to Precinct from Elder-in-Res­i­dence Harold Furber. 

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Desert Knowl­edge Precinct Elder-in-Res­i­dence Harold Furber opened the NTSR project launch event at the Alice Springs weath­er station

The Ter­ri­to­ry Labor Government’s num­ber one pri­or­i­ty is cre­at­ing local jobs. Deliv­er­ing 50% renew­ables by 2030 will deliv­er local jobs, and cheap­er, clean­er pow­er,” Min­is­ter Wake­field said. 

We have invest­ed in four state of the art weath­er sta­tions. The data from the weath­er sta­tions — which includes mea­sur­ing solar irra­di­ance — is impor­tant infor­ma­tion for solar ener­gy investors. This data is being cap­tured through cut­ting edge tech­nol­o­gy and will also pro­vide a foun­da­tion for renew­able ener­gy research and development.

To achieve our tar­get, we are sup­port­ing the $40 mil­lion pri­vate sec­tor invest­ment in the 25MW Kather­ine Solar Farm project, and the $59 mil­lion joint invest­ment with ARE­NA for the Solar SET­uP pro­gram pro­vid­ing 10MW of solar across 25 remote communities.”

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A dia­gram of the equip­ment used at each NTSR weath­er sta­tion, cour­tesy of Ekistica.

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