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Solar project in remote community delivers funding

January 14 2022

  • Remote community of Kalumburu moves to 64 per cent renewable energy
  • Funding of $150,000 invested back into the community for clean energy initiatives

Kalumburu is the furthermost permanent settlement along the remote Kimberley coast of Western Australia and is at times inaccessible by road.

The community’s only power source to date has been from diesel generation, but this is about to change. A solar farm and battery energy storage solution has now been completed, with commissioning activities underway.

Horizon Power will re-invest the cost savings from the project in the community through its new Community Energy Fund, a first for the State Government-owned utility.

This means Horizon Power can give back $15,000 per year for 10 years or $150,000 upfront for the community to invest in its own renewable energy projects. The Kalumburu Aboriginal Corporation is working with the community and Horizon Power to determine how the funding can be invested into further clean, green energy initiatives.

Horizon Power Chief Executive Officer, Stephanie Unwin, joined the Kalumburu Aboriginal Corporation and members of the community in Kalumburu today to mark the completion of the project at a small community event, during which guests were given a tour of the new solar farm.

The 929kW solar farm and 1.78MWh battery will meet up to 64 per cent of Kalumburu’s electricity needs, significantly reducing the community’s reliance on diesel-powered generation.

This will reduce carbon emissions by up to 825 tonnes per year and reduce annual diesel consumption at the Kalumburu power station by an estimated 312,500 litres a year. This is the equivalent of taking approximately 180 cars off the road.

The new solution will not only improve the reliability of supply for the 400 residents but will also reduce the cost to the State Government of providing electricity to the community.

It has, in part, been made possible by the modular design of the solar farm’s ground mount system, which requires minimal civil and structural works to install. This has allowed lead contractor and solar systems specialist, Western Australian Alternative Energy, to employ locals to assist with the construction of the solar farm.

The project will be the first to be delivered as a part of Horizon Power’s Remote Communities Centralised Solar program, which aims to deliver similar renewable energy solutions to remote Western Australian Aboriginal communities.

Commissioning is now underway, and Horizon Power expects the new generation solution to be operational by March 2022.

Horizon Power Chief Executive Officer, Stephanie Unwin, said she was proud to be part of an organisation that continues to deliver on its commitment to leave a lasting, positive impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander customers and communities.

“We reach these excellent outcomes with guidance and leadership from the communities involved. By listening to their needs and collaborating with them to create practical solutions, Horizon Power can leave a truly worthwhile legacy,” MS Unwin said.

“Kalumburu is an incredible place, both for its people and the beautiful country that they nurture. This renewable energy solution will help to protect and preserve it and ensure future generations can continue to thrive here with help from the sun.”

“I’m incredibly proud of the way our Clean Energy Fund and this important project have delivered meaningful solutions to support the diverse energy needs of our remote customers.”

Horizon Power acknowledges the Traditional Custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders past, present and emerging.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain images, names or voices of deceased people.