A little bit of background: the Northern Territory covers almost one and a half million square kilometres (or 520,902 square miles), and has a population of only 246,500. 49% of the land in the Northern Territory is owned by the indigenous population. The economy is based largely on mining and petroleum. Most of the population lives in Darwin, the capital, with a spread of settlements along the Stuart Highway heading down to Adelaide. The north of the territory is tropical savannah, the south is desert. It is not a state — has a legislative assembly but can be overruled by the Commonwealth.
I’ve only travelled to the Northern Territory once. A couple of decades ago, I flew from Brisbane to Uluru (then known as Ayers Rock). One could not help but be impressed by the vastness of the place, and the heat! We visited the rock at dawn (it was too hot otherwise) and even drank champagne with a motorcycle group at sunset. Now the Northern Territory is in the news for other reasons.
It is implementing a plan to support the introduction of electric vehicles. The Northern Territory government will charge reduced registration and stamp duty fees for electric vehicles; give grants for home, workplace and public EV chargers; and facilitate the installation of more EV charging stations.
“Implementation of this electric vehicle policy confirms our Government’s actions on addressing climate risk to transition to a low-carbon economy. Responding to climate change will not only help us protect our environment, but will support this new industry and the jobs that come with it,” Ms. Lawler, Minister for Renewables and Energy, said.
Tapping into the territory’s rich solar resources and vast open spaces (no need for NIMBYism here) many projects are being planned to transform the Northern Territory into a renewable energy powerhouse. Australia’s Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) has a “10 Gigawatt Vision for the Northern Territory,” with massive job creation potential and a future in the export of green hydrogen.
The Northern Territory has set a 50% renewable energy target. Part of its success will depend on big batteries and more and more solar. A 35MW big battery is planned for Darwin to displace current dependence on gas generation. The federal government is supporting the push with a $37 million loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) to create a 10MW solar and battery station being built south of Darwin.
Jabiru, gateway to Kakadu National Park (think lots of crocs!!), has no grid connection. Energy Developments Limited is building a hybrid diesel, solar, and battery microgrid to power the town. It is expected to be fully operational by February 2022.
The Northern Territory contains the heart of the Australian Nation (Uluru). This heart is now going solar.