The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has committed $75 million in grant funding to support the development of renewable energy microgrid projects in First Nations communities as part of a broader program to deliver cleaner, cheaper and more reliable energy to communities across regional and remote Australia.
The new Regional Microgrids Program also incorporates ARENA’s existing $50 million Regional Australia Microgrid Pilots Program, taking the total funding pool to $125 million across both streams.
ARENA Chief Executive Officer Darren Miller said the First Nations stream of the funding will underwrite the deployment of local microgrid projects to better meet the electricity supply needs of remote indigenous communities.
Miller said electricity provision in remote and regional communities is often heavily reliant on diesel which is unreliable, expensive and emissions intensive.
“It’s vital we make sure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities are able to participate in the electricity transition and share in the benefits of Australia’s renewable future,” he said.
“Remote communities relying on fossil fuels like diesel have unique challenges in transitioning to renewables and this new funding will help overcome barriers to broader deployment of microgrid solutions.”
ARENA said microgrid projects under the First Nations stream will be developed in consultation with a broad range of stakeholders, including First Nations renewable energy experts, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups, and state and territory governments.
Both streams of the program will aim to resolve remaining hurdles to final investment and full deployment of microgrid solutions.
Funding applications are now being accepted with the program to run until December 2025 or until funds are exhausted.
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