The remote, iconic Australian mining town of Coober Pedy in South Australia, opal capital of the world, relied for many years on an often fitful diesel-fired generator for its electricity. That was, until, EDL’s Coober Pedy Hybrid Renewable Project, a combination of 1 MW solar PV, 4 MW wind, a 1 MW, 0.5 MWh battery storage and inverter system, and additional enabling technologies integrated with the existing 3.9 MW diesel power station maintained as backup.
The upgrade project, supported generously by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), was completed in July 2017, and has today taken out a top gong at the 2019 Asia Power Awards in the Environmental Upgrade of the Year category. Not bad considering most people in Coober Pedy live in underground dugouts. There is even a slight hint of poetic justice for locals in the knowledge that the relentlessly fierce sun which drives people underground into a moleish existence is now working for them rather than against them – delivering locals lower energy costs and more stable electricity.
The hybrid renewable energy project, a benchmark in megawatt scale isolated grids, has world-leading renewable energy penetration rates. According to EDL the longest continuous period the project was operated on 100% renewables was 93 hours in August 2019.
EDL CEO James Harman was gratified by the recognition at the 2019 Asia Power Awards for the company’s success in combining Coober Pedy’s original diesel power station with the hybrid renewable energy project. “The Coober Pedy Hybrid Renewable Project sets a global benchmark for renewables in off-grid, remote communities and has already provided invaluable learnings for other hybrid renewable projects across the country,” said Harman.
Since October 2018, the project has been consistently supplying an average of more than 70% of Coober Pedy’s power.