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Off-Grid Guide

Nov 26, 2019

Powering the bush with shared knowledge and sustainable solutions

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A com­pre­hen­sive guide has been pro­duced to assist those involved in the pro­cure­ment, deploy­ment and main­te­nance of off-grid solar pow­er sys­tems in remote areas of the North­ern Territory.

The Off-Grid Guide was pro­duced by Intyal­heme in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Ekisti­ca, an Alice Springs-based tech­ni­cal con­sul­tan­cy. It lever­ages the knowl­edge gen­er­at­ed since the start of the Bush­light pro­gram (20022013) which led to the instal­la­tion of more than 150 new stand-alone pow­er sys­tems across the home­lands and out­sta­tions of Cen­tral and North­ern Australia.

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Magnify Corella Creek Bushlight cleaning the panels at commissioning

The Bush­light pro­gram was orig­i­nal­ly devel­oped in response to wide­spread fail­ures in the deploy­ment of off-grid sys­tems in remote com­mu­ni­ties,” said Paul Rod­den, who authored the major­i­ty of the document. 

The Off-Grid Guide aims to ensure the knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence gained since that time is retained and shared with those who are most like­ly to need it, so we can avoid repeat­ing old mistakes.”

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Magnify Julalikari Level 2 system training 1 2012

Mr Rod­den said the suc­cess of Bush­light was thanks to good com­mu­ni­ty engage­ment and a long-term approach, with an empha­sis on qual­i­ty and capac­i­ty-build­ing among the res­i­dents and ener­gy con­sumers, sup­port agen­cies, and industry.

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Magnify New Bore Array

Since Bush­light end­ed, a num­ber of agen­cies have tak­en on the role of main­tain­ing the sys­tems. The fund­ing of new sys­tems or upgrades is a com­plex area which can be impact­ed by time-lim­it­ed grants, funds that might not stretch to cov­er main­te­nance, and oth­er challenges.

Mr Rod­den said he would like to see appro­pri­ate fund­ing direct­ed to the ongo­ing main­te­nance of exist­ing sys­tems, as well as fur­ther capac­i­ty-build­ing to sup­port their use. 

It is impor­tant that new sys­tems deployed in com­mu­ni­ties are of a high qual­i­ty and suit­ed to the community’s actu­al needs, which requires gen­uine com­mu­ni­ty con­sul­ta­tion,” he said.

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Magnify OGG launch

Paul Rod­den and Min­is­ter Wake­field launch the Off-Grid Guide

The Bush­light pro­gram was run by the Cen­tre for Appro­pri­ate Tech­nol­o­gy, the Indige­nous-con­trolled par­ent com­pa­ny of Ekistica. 

The Off-Grid Guide was offi­cial­ly launched in August 2019 by North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry Min­is­ter for Renew­ables, Ener­gy and Essen­tial Ser­vices, Dale Wake­field. An infor­ma­tion ses­sion was held in Dar­win on Novem­ber 27, 2019, to high­light the avail­able knowl­edge for the ben­e­fit of indus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives and pol­i­cy makers.

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