The federal government will invest $64 million (USD 43.8 million) in a Defence Renewable Energy and Energy Security Program to deliver solar energy generation and battery storage systems at 10 Department of Defence sites throughout Australia. The program aims to make the country’s military barracks and bases more self-reliant.
Assistant Defence Minister Matt Thistlethwaite made the announcement earlier this week during a visit to Robertson Barracks near Darwin in the Northern Territory, where an 11 MW solar farm comprising more than 27,000 solar panels and a 2.5 MW battery system is already under construction and is expected be operational by the end of 2023.
“The beauty of this project is that it takes barracks off the grid,” he said, adding the commitment will support Defence capability.
“We’re investing in renewable energy projects because they will reduce energy costs for the defence force,” he said. “It means that you’ve got more funds to invest in capability improvements in the future.”
Thistlethwaite said the program will see a combined 60 MW of solar energy, enough to power the equivalent of about 15,000 households each year, installed at the sites to diversify supply and increase energy independence and reduce the reliance on diesel fuel.
A total of 25 MWh of storage capacity will also be delivered as part of the program “to increase energy resilience and power quality.”
Among the projects is a “large-scale” renewable energy facility of an undisclosed capacity to be developed at the Edinburgh Defence Precinct in South Australia. Other projects include the installation of solar and storage systems at defence facilities in the NT, South Australia, and Western Australia. Design work will also commence for a solar system to be installed at the Russell Headquarters complex in the Australian Capital Territory.
Construction has already commenced on the first of the projects and the works schedule is to continue until 2027-28.
The Department of Defence said the projects will “increase resilience at Defence bases and reduce dependency on fuel supply chains for backup power generation.”
The investment builds upon earlier renewable energy initiatives at Australian defence sites, including at the naval base at Garden Island in Western Australia and the Victoria Barracks. Government data shows that the program has already delivered savings of approximately $380,000 per year and in 2020-2021, Defence generated approximately 2.18 GWh hours of clean energy.
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