Pilbara to get renewable energy boost

Pilbara mining communities look set to be the biggest beneficiaries of a plan to build two large-scale renewable energy plants.

The federal government-funded program is expected to generate 150 megawatts of electricity from renewable energy sources in regional and remote locations within five years.

Resources and Energy Minister Gary Gray said in the Pilbara – where the cost of wind energy can be half that of diesel – energy demand is growing faster than in any other part of Australia.

“It’s no secret that in Western Australia we have a lot of remote areas and meeting our growing energy demand is a big issue,” Mr Gray said. “Where there is no grid-connected electricity, many communities and industries truck-in fuels to generate energy.”

The Industry RAR program will support the development of renewable energy solutions, including hybrid and integrated systems in off-grid and fringe-of-grid locations across Australia – enabling industry to generate industry from a combination of energy sources.

“Hybrid and integrated systems can add to the reliability of a renewable system by providing energy for a full 24-hour period, not just when the sun shines or the wind blows,” Mr Gray said.

“In the Pilbara, two state-of-the-art solar-diesel power stations at Marble Bar and Nullagine have been built – in 2009-10 the average duration of power outages to Marble Bar households was 38 minutes. In 2010-11, when the new power station was operational, it was eight minutes.

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