Rottnest solar farm to cut diesel use

Wind turbine on Rottnest Island

Construction of Rottnest’s first solar farm will start within two weeks after more than 8000 panels were shipped to the island.

The $7.3 million farm will combine with Rottnest’s wind turbine to generate almost half the island’s electricity needs and greatly reduce the amount of diesel transported from the mainland.

Rottnest Island Authority’s major projects and contract services acting general manager Rob Weir said work on the farm was due to start on April 1 and be finished by the end of June.

He said the farm, on 4ha on the eastern side of the island’s airport, would generate 600kW of power. “Because we are cut off from the mainland’s electricity grid and don’t have the mainland’s economies of scale, renewable energy becomes cost- effective,” Mr Weir said.

“We can use the wind and solar power to offset diesel consumption and reduce the costs involved in bringing diesel to the island.”

Rottnest’s annual power consumption of 5GWh has been provided by five conventional diesel generators, two low-load diesel generators and the wind turbine.

“Reducing the amount of diesel used on Rottnest Island makes sense,” RIA chief executive Paolo Amaranti said.

“Diesel fuel is expensive and subject to global pressures on price and availability,” RIA chief executive Paolo Amaranti said.

“Reducing the amount of diesel used on Rottnest Island makes sense, not only from an economic perspective but also as part of the island’s long-term focus on sustainability.”

The solar farm is being built as part of an agreement between the Federal and State governments and Hydro Tasmania, Australia’s biggest producer of renewable energy.

Hydro Tasmania runs 55 dams and 30 hydropower stations and owns the power systems on King and Flinders islands.

Hydro Tasmania’s Simon Gamble said a novel aspect of the project was ensuring the best use of renewable energy when it was most abundant.

“Running the desalination plant on renewables rather than diesel will reduce the cost and emissions intensity of producing the island’s drinking water,” he said.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency will contribute up to $4.8 million.

The rest will come from the State Government.

Rottnest Solar Farm to cut diesel use - Kent Acott, The West Australian, 19 March 2016