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The Northern Territory Government’s newly-released Darwin-Katherine Electricity System Plan outlines the territory’s comprehensive pathway to reaching 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

The System Plan aims to cut emissions in half, and will significantly aid the state in its transition to affordable, reliable, clean and secure energy.

In addition to providing cleaner, secure and reliable energy, the System Plan demonstrates that meeting the 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030 will result in decreased electricity system costs, leading to an annual cost saving of $30 million per annum by 2030.

Using expert industry and economic analysis, the plan is based on:

  • Achieving government targets (50 per cent renewables and a $40 billion economy by 2030)
  • Minimising costs to Territorians
  • Reducing emissions and contributing to the NT net-zero emissions target by 2050
  • Utilising emerging technologies
  • Recognition that the renewables sector is rapidly evolving
  • Current and continuing NT electricity market reforms

Over the past decade, there has been a consistent increase in the adoption and integration of renewable technologies across the Territory.

The Darwin-Katherine Electricity System provides energy to 150,000 Territorians, and one in six customers have rooftop solar panels. Customers are using more of their own solar generation to power their homes and businesses during the day rather than using traditional generation.

Customers are also exporting their solar into the grid; meaning less need for centralised generation from the power system during the day, creating changes in demand.

The System Plan also focuses on six key areas to achieve the 50 per cent Renewable Energy Target.

These include:

  • Solar
  • Thermal generation
  • Battery storage to capture surplus solar energy that can be used at night
  • Security batteries to support system stability
  • New Virtual Power Plants
  • Demand management initiatives to maximise the value of solar energy production

The Plan 

Ready (2021 – 2023): ensuring the infrastructure and systems are in place.

This includes: 

  • Establishing a new Renewable Energy Hub
  • Installing batteries for homes and communities; this work is ongoing, under the Home and Business Battery Scheme and the Remote Solar Program
  • Early-stage procurement of flexible, renewable capable, and appropriately sized generating assets that are fast-starting, modular and mobile; to complement the existing power system – a project Territory Generation is working on

Set (2024 – 2026): this stage is about getting ahead of the curve before the retirement of the current thermal generators in 2027, and building momentum for renewable investment. 

This stage will include:

  • The operation of virtual power plants
  • Incentivising pricing structures that reward customers for shifting energy use to the day

Go (2027-2030): by this stage, smaller, agile, renewable capable generators are available, with some legacy assets retained under standby arrangements, to ensure grid capacity and facilitate response to growth opportunities for the Territory’s industrial sector.

The System Plan aims to maximise opportunities and attract new investments that deliver on the Territory’s Renewable Energy Target.

It also builds on, and complements existing state initiatives – including the Home and Business Battery Scheme, Solar in Schools initiative and 35MW Battery Energy Storage System.

Northern Territory Minister for Renewables and Energy, Eva Lawler, said, “The Territory is on the cusp of a once in a generation opportunity to transition to a greener, lower cost, power system and we are well placed to realise this vision by 2030.

“The Territory Labor Government has backed renewables and so have Territorians – they know renewables deliver cleaner, cheaper and secure power.

“Not only will this System Plan contribute to our renewables and emissions reduction targets, it will also save $30 million per year in electricity system costs by the end of the decade.

“The Territory’s solar source is excellent and we want to harness that, along with a mix of technologies that will ensure we have clean and affordable power that meets expected demand.

“We are working closely with Power and Water, Territory Generation, Jacana Energy and key stakeholders to prepare for future electricity demands.”

As the Territory energy system continues to evolve and more renewable energy is integrated, the State Government says it is critical that there is a comprehensive strategy to manage this change and maximise opportunities. 

Industry comments

Territory Generation CEO, Gerhard Laubscher, said, “Territory Generation is pleased to see the release of the Darwin-Katherine System Plan, which provides a roadmap towards the Government’s renewables and energy policy.

“Territory Generation will continue to support the Territory’s power needs now and into the future.”

Power and Water CEO, Djuna Pollard, added, “The Northern Territory is seeing a renewable energy revolution with more energy sources connecting into our network than ever before – particularly from residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

“Power and Water is supporting the integration of new generation, and establishing new systems and upgrading existing models to recognise new projects and facilitate connections. We welcome the focus on installing three high spec security batteries and demand management initiatives.”

For more information and to read the Plan visit https://territoryrenewableenergy.nt.gov.au/.

https://newsroom.nt.gov.au/

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