The Alice Springs Future Grid project is a $12.5m col­lab­o­ra­tive project focused on remov­ing bar­ri­ers to fur­ther renew­able ener­gy pen­e­tra­tion in the Alice Springs pow­er system. 

Future Grid involves North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry and inter­state experts, led by the Intyal­heme Cen­tre for Future Ener­gy, which is itself a project of Desert Knowl­edge Aus­tralia (DKA) fund­ed by the North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry Gov­ern­ment

The project is direct­ed through a Steer­ing Com­mit­tee, com­pris­ing indi­vid­u­als from the Con­sor­tium Mem­ber organ­i­sa­tions, along with rep­re­sen­ta­tion from the North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry Gov­ern­ment and ARENA

The sto­ry

The Alice Springs pow­er sys­tem cur­rent­ly aver­ages about 10 per cent solar input. The tar­get set by the North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry Gov­ern­ment is 50 per cent by 2030. Fol­low­ing the Roadmap to Renew­ables report, the North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry Gov­ern­ment (NTG) recog­nised that no sin­gle enti­ty could get the NT to its renew­able ener­gy tar­get (RET). 

In order to bridge the gaps between peo­ple and knowl­edge, the NTG set up Intyal­heme with $5 mil­lion seed fund­ing, and a man­date to reignite a col­lab­o­ra­tive net­work to enhance renew­able ener­gy capability.

The com­plex­i­ty

Every elec­tric­i­ty grid faces chal­lenges asso­ci­at­ed with the tran­si­tion to renew­able ener­gy. On some occa­sions when con­di­tions are just right, Alice Springs can reach 50 per cent solar input. How­ev­er this is occa­sion­al­ly. Alice Springs Future Grid is aim­ing to make it the case as an aver­age, across the year. 

Cur­rent­ly, there are numer­ous bar­ri­ers to the renew­able ener­gy frac­tion increas­ing in Alice Springs. The solu­tions to fur­ther renew­able ener­gy pen­e­tra­tion are tech­ni­cal, reg­u­la­to­ry, eco­nom­ic and com­mu­ni­ty-focused. The tech­ni­cal bar­ri­ers are broad­ly cen­tred around ancil­lary ser­vices. Check out our FAQs for more detail. 

Reg­u­la­to­ry bar­ri­ers have includ­ed the North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry’s 1:1 feed-in tar­iff, which was changed in April 2020. In the past, such mea­sures played an impor­tant role in incen­tivis­ing solar PV, but they are no longer entire­ly appro­pri­ate, because pow­er grids are reach­ing max­i­mum solar capac­i­ty and the price of such tech­nol­o­gy is grow­ing ever more eco­nom­i­cal­ly viable. Bat­ter­ies can help sta­bilise the grid, so a tar­iff reform sub-project of Future Grid is inves­ti­gat­ing alter­na­tive tar­iff arrange­ments for the pro­vi­sion of sys­tem ser­vices, to incen­tivise the instal­la­tion of batteries.


Knowl­edge Sharing

Knowl­edge Shar­ing is a promi­nent ele­ment of the Alice Springs Future Grid project, and Intyal­heme is proud to part­ner with CSIRO to make sure lessons learnt in Alice Springs are recog­nised by the ener­gy indus­try at a nation­al lev­el, and made avail­able to the gen­er­al public.

The web­site was built with knowl­edge shar­ing in mind. We aim to stem the loss of cor­po­rate mem­o­ry, which can result from the high lev­el of tran­sience in the North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry. This knowl­edge also pays trib­ute to the great efforts of inno­va­tors in and around Alice Springs, which has helped put the town in a great posi­tion to lead the way to a renew­able ener­gy future. 

Mul­ti­ple organ­i­sa­tions are work­ing togeth­er on the Alice Springs Future Grid project. Lessons learned from Future Grid will be trans­fer­able to oth­er grids, includ­ing the Nation­al Elec­tric­i­ty Mar­ket (NEM) on Aus­trali­a’s East Coast, which is one of the largest pow­er net­works in the world.

CSIRO is lead­ing indus­try knowl­edge shar­ing for Future Grid, ensur­ing lessons are made acces­si­ble to ener­gy indus­try play­ers all around Aus­tralia and beyond. 

This web­site is run by Intyal­heme, with sup­port from Future Grid Con­sor­tium Members.