Northern Territory airports to add solar farms

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The Federal Government’s $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) fund has announced it will pump in $150 million into the Northern Territory airport expansion program, which will include construction of solar farms at Darwin, Alice Springs and Tennant Creek airports, and an off-site, multi-user battery facility located near Darwin.

NAIF is covering half of the costs of the $300 expansion package, while the rest of the bill is footed by NT Airports. Other works include the development of a cold storage and export hub at Darwin International Airport and upgrades at the Alice Springs Airport.

All projects are scheduled to commence in 2019.

“Benefits will be delivered for the Northern Territory through the project. There are expected to be up to 1,000 jobs generated through the construction phase, supporting approximately 500 indirect jobs through the supply chain with over 140 new on-going positions,” Laurie Walker, NAIF CEO, stated.

The initiative is a great step forward for the Territory to reach its 50% renewable energy target by 2030, while advancing an ambitious plan to replace its gas powered peaker fleet with solar and large-scale battery storage.

Airport Development Group CEO Ian Kew told the ABC that the loan would be used to expand a 6 MW solar power farm currently in operation at Darwin Airport, with the ambition to build a 40 MW power farm and ultimately start to export sufficient power into the grid.

It is reported that a 10 MW solar power station is also in the pipeline for Alice Springs Airport.

The NAIF airport funding announcement follows a staggering $516 million concessional loan it offered to Genex Power for its solar PV and pumped hydro project proposed for an abandoned gold mine in North Queensland. The proposed loan, which is subject to a number of terms and conditions, is to be directed towards the second stage of the Kidston power facility, comprising a 270 MW solar PV plant and a 250 MW of pumped storage hydro project.