How did the Alice Springs Future Grid project start?
The Roadmap to Renewables Report (2017) underpinned the Northern Territory’s 50 per cent by 2030 renewable energy target and highlighted some practical steps to start the NT on the least-cost path to this outcome. The report also suggested Alice Springs should be supported as a hub for solar energy research and development – an opportunity which had already been identified, owing to the strong history of renewable energy innovation in Alice Springs. The NT Government awarded $5m seed funding for the Intyalheme Centre for Future Energy. Intyalheme - now an established flagship, project of Desert Knowledge Australia - was tasked with identifying and overcoming the barriers to further renewable energy in the Alice Springs energy system. Intyalheme’s strategy was focused in three areas: to build a collaborative stakeholder network, to be a conduit between stakeholders and the public, and to share knowledge. The strategic areas served to recognise that no single energy industry participant could get the Northern Territory to its renewable energy target.
Intyalheme’s efforts included securing the first regional Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) A-Lab, which culminated in the design of the Alice Springs Future Grid project. A subsequent funding application was submitted to ARENA, which was successful.