The tiny population of Lord Howe Island will soon be powered by a state-of-the-art solar and battery system to significantly curb its reliance on diesel generators.
An integrated solar and storage system, purposely designed for a small and remote location, will be built on the World Heritage-listed island, located in the Tasman Sea 700km north-east of Sydney.
The microgrid will provide at least two thirds of the electricity needs for the population of 382 - which allows a maximum of 400 tourists at one time - and drastically reduce its reliance on diesel which is shipped-in and subject to volatility in price and supply.
Construction on the hybrid solar and battery system project, which includes more than 1.2 megawatt hours in solar PV and battery storage with a capacity of over 3.2 megawatt hours, will begin early next year and is expected to be completed by June.
Through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the federal government has provided $4.5 million towards this $11.1 million project, which is also supported by the NSW government and the Lord Howe Island Board, responsible for care, control and management of the island.
Board chief executive officer Peter Adams said the project was a "fantastic" result for the community and visitors.
"We are reducing the environmental impact of our energy supply while also improving energy security," Mr Adams said.
"We set a target to reduce our diesel use by two-thirds, and we believe we will not only meet that target, but potentially exceed it."
ARENA chief executive Darren Miller said the island faced a unique set of challenges in supplying and recovering the costs of providing essential services to its community and protecting its natural environment.
He said the initial plan was to include solar and wind generation, however it was determined during the course of the project that the wind turbine component could no longer be delivered.
NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean said the government would deliver solar panels and batteries purposely designed for the location.
- SMH/The Age