Work is finished on the largest rollout of solar in remote Australian communities, with 25 sites across the Northern Territory generating electricity from the abundant sunlight to muscle out diesel generators.

The $59 million Solar Energy Transformation Program integrates 10MW of solar PV arrays in remote locations with a target for diesel savings of 94 million litres over a 25-year period, a 15% reduction.

The operation was coordinated and delivered by Power and Water Corporation and funded by the Northern Territory government and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Power and Water CEO Michael Thomson said in addition to the fuel savings, the project delivered other invaluable outcomes, including improving the understanding of solar power across the Top End.

“We successfully increased the understanding of how solar power creates efficiencies, improves air quality, reduces number of heavy vehicles travelling in and out of a community and reduces greenhouse gas emissions,” Thomson said.

The program included a project at Nauiyu (Daly River) that combined a 1MW solar array with a 2MWh battery, allowing for 100% of solar energy use during the day with diesel engines operating at night.

The program, launched in 2014, has changed Power and Water’s remote community energy supply portfolio and made solar energy an established part of future power station design.

The Northern Territory Labor government says it is on target for renewables to account for 50% of generation by 2030.

“The SETuP program is an important step forward in achieving the Territory Labor Government’s target of 50% renewable energy by 2030. SETuP will help to support cleaner power for Territorians in remote communities by reducing reliance on costly diesel, and also air pollution,” said Northern Territory Minister for Renewables, Energy and Essential Services Dale Wakefield.

SETuP is part of ARENA’s Regional Australia’s Renewables – Community and Regional Renewable Energy (CARRE) program.