The Alice Springs Future Grid project was developed through two major workshops, the ARENA Alice Springs A‑Lab held in November 2018, and a Future Grid workshop, also held at Desert Knowledge Australia in July 2019. The participants in the second workshop are featured in the banner image of this page. Once a series of sub-projects was defined, it became clear a number of organisations would be required to run the project. These organisations are the Consortium Members.
The following organisations are represented on the Steering Committee of Alice Springs Future Grid.
Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) is a not-for-profit statutory corporation of the Northern Territory, established in 2003 to encourage learning, socioeconomic development, research, and environmental sustainability in Central Australia. DKA is committed to developing opportunities to build a stronger and more connected desert and remote Australia. DKA is the landlord of the Desert Knowledge Precinct, and its primary operations include fulfilling that responsibility, as well as fostering its two flagship projects; Codes 4 Life and the Intyalheme Centre for Future Energy. The funding from the Australian Government’s Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund – Microgrids program was auspiced through DKA.
The Intyalheme Centre for Future Energy (pronounced In-char-lum) is a flagship project of Desert Knowledge Australia. It was established with $5m seed funding from the Northern Territory Government, and a mandate to coordinate relevant agencies towards the NT’s 50% renewable energy target by 2030. Intyalheme has robust governance frameworks, operating as a consortium led by Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA), Power and Water Corporation (PWC), Charles Darwin University (CDU), Ekistica, and the Northern Territory Government (NTG). Intyalheme has a formal Knowledge Sharing MoU with ARENA to disseminate renewable energy knowledge across the NT.
Intyalheme is leading the delivery of the Alice Springs Future Grid project, on behalf of DKA.
Ekistica is a professional advisory and technical consultancy firm based in Central Australia with clients that include state and national governments, intergovernmental agencies, power utilities, community service organisations, large commercial firms and private investment firms.
Ekistica’s team includes electrical, renewable, environmental, civil, structural and mechanical engineers, engagement specialists, data analysts and IT systems and financial experts who work on major projects right across Australia and internationally. Many of its most prominent projects are in the renewable energy sector, although Ekistica applies its underlying principles and philosophies to a broad range of technology and infrastructure projects.
Ekistica has been delivering energy solutions to remote communities for decades, finding innovative solutions to the complex challenges posed in remote Outback Australia. One such project was Bushlight (2002 – 2013). Ekistica has recently worked with Intyalheme (project delivery lead for Future Grid) to produce a document called the Off-Grid Guide, which leverages the knowledge generated during the Bushlight project, to promote best practice in the producrement and deployment of off-grid solar systems in remote Australia.
Ekistica’s parent company is the Aboriginal-controlled Centre for Appropriate Technology Ltd.
Power and Water Corporation is one of three Government Owned Corporations delivering energy services in the Northern Territory. Power and Water owns and manages power networks on the Darwin-Katherine Interconnected System (DKIS) grid and the Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Yulara stand-alone grids. Power and Water also provides power to 73 remote Indigenous communities across the NT. Power and Water operates as System Controller and Network Operator in all NT grids. It recently delivered the Solar Energy Transformation Program (SETuP) enabling 25 remote communities to access renewable energy, in a project co-funded by ARENA.
Territory Generation (TGen) is the main generation provider on all regulated grids in the Northern Territory. TGen was established as part of the NT Government’s structural reforms of the Power and Water Corporation, announced in December 2013. The new Government Owned Corporation was separated from Power and Water in July 2014. It operates nine power stations across the Territory, including two in Alice Springs: Ron Goodin and Owen Springs. TGen has recently installed a 5MW Battery Energy Storage System in Alice Springs.
The Desert Knowledge Research Institute (DKRI) was the formal lead for the ARENA funding application.
DKRI is incorporated as a company limited by guarantee and its sole member is Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA). DKRI’s purpose is to undertake research of value to desert Australia.
DKRI is represented on the project’s Steering Committee by the Chairperson, who is also a member of DKRI’s Research Committee.
Knowledge sharing partner: CSIRO
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is Australia’s national science research agency and has extensive engagement into the national energy industry. It partners with local and global companies to deliver energy solutions for a sustainable future, aiming to improve the affordability, reliability and grid integration of renewable energy technologies, including solar, wind and biofuels. Its expertise also extends into the transport sector with sustainable fuels and energy storage solutions, as well as using new technologies to improve the electricity grid. CSIRO provides government and industry with the tools, data and modelling capability to inform policy assessment and investment decision making.
Sub-project lead: Arid Lands Environment Centre
The Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) is Central Australia’s peak environmental organisation with strong community support and around 350 financial members. ALEC has been actively involved in urban sustainability initiatives since its inception in 1980. ALEC delivered the Alice Water Smart program in conjunction with Power Water Corporation in 2013 – 2016 and was an important consortium member of the Alice Solar City program.
ALEC is the Project Lead for sub-project 3: Community Solutions.
Sub-project Lead: Jacana Energy
Jacana Energy is the NT’s largest electricity retailer, with 80,000 customers across residential and commercial settings, and urban and rural locations. Jacana was created as part of the NT Government’s structural separation of Power and Water Corporation. It is owned by the NT Government. Jacana is leading sub-project 4: Tariff Reform.
NT Government (NTG) agencies roll out energy-related policy and regulations in the NT. The Office of Sustainable Energy, which sits within the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation, has a close association with Intyalheme, through which it stays abreast of activities within Alice Springs Future Grid. Other departments relevant to Intyalheme and the Future Grid project include Treasury and Finance, Primary Industry and Resources (DPIR) and the Department of the Chief Minister.
The NTG is committed to at least 50% renewable energy by 2030, and commissioned the Roadmap to Renewables report to help achieve the goal. In implementing the recommendations, the NTG funded the Intyalheme Centre for Future Energy and is delivering a $5m rooftop solar in schools project. It has awarded major project status to the proposed 10GW solar farm near Tennant Creek and funded a series of weather stations that will contribute to the production of reliable data for renewable energy project developers.
The Intyalheme Centre for Future Energy was started with $5 million seed funding from the Northern Territory Government. $3m of this total is being invested into Alice Springs Future Grid. Intyalheme wishes to acknowledge the NTG’s support.
RMIT is a global university of technology, design and enterprise. One of Australia’s original tertiary institutions, RMIT University has an international reputation for excellence in professional and vocational education, applied research, and engagement with the needs of industry and the community. RMIT provides specialist research into power network operations. RMIT led the ARENA-funded Proton Flow Reactor System project, to assist with the export of hydrogen.
Proa AnalyticsProa Analytics is an Australian company of engineers and scientists. It uses a deep knowledge of solar, optimisation and energy systems to provide validated forecasting and modelling solutions. Proa Analytics was founded in 2016 by Matthew Jeppesen and Victor Depoorter, both of whom have PhDs in related fields and extensive experience in the energy industry. Proa Analytics is leading the ARENA-funded Innovative Optimally Combined Solar Forecasts project, combining multiple solar forecasts to provide an optimal forecast.
Horizon PowerHorizon Power is a WA Government owned, commercially focused corporation that provides power to 100,000 residents and 10,000 businesses across regional and remote Western Australia. Horizon Power is focused on sustainable energy solutions in an increasingly renewable energy landscape, leveraging its position as a vertically integrated operator of 32 microgrids to achieve much higher levels of distributed energy. Horizon Power is currently delivering an ARENA funded project entitled the ‘Business Model Pilot Project – Phase 1’ and is openly sharing its learnings with the Alice Springs Future Grid project.
Alice Springs Town Council
Alice Springs Town Council (ASTC) has around 180 staff and the elected Council consists of the Mayor and eight Councillors. ASTC was lead proponent for the highly successfully Alice Solar City project that ran in the town from 2007 to 2013. The council prides itself on continued leadership in this space, with many of its facilities running on solar and a 50% renewable energy target by 2021. Council is providing in-kind support for Alice Springs Future Grid.
Charles Darwin UniversityCDU is the only university based in the Northern Territory. It is Australia’s most northerly university, taking advantage of its position on Asia’s doorstep. CDU is deeply engaged with, and informed by, Australia’s Indigenous people. It has campuses and centres across the NT including Alice Springs. CDU has engineering and social research capacity that will be utilised during the Future Grid project. CDU is currently involved in a three-year project to research the cost-effective maintenance of remote mini-grid systems.