Solar Power = Community Power

THE IDEA

  • two communities in the remote Australian outback have ditched the diesel in favour of solar power

WHY IT MATTERS

  • less diesel = less pollution = win
  • with a constant, economic power source, the community is coming back to life, with residents now able to live there year-round
Community

WHAT’S NEXT

  • the project serves as a pilot for other Outback communities.

The Australian outback is . . . well, it’s d*** big. Depending on where you draw the borders (sorry, there’s no specific definition) it stretches several thousand square kilometres, from one side of the country to the other. All you geography geeks out there will be interested in knowing that you could fit all of Europe into it. It’s a beautiful place. But extreme. Unforgiving. Harsh. The further into it you go, the further away you get from the comforts of civilization. First among them: electricity.

In the old days, communities in the Outback used portable diesel generators for their juice. It’s a dirty, smelly, noisy, and crazy-expensive way to generate power. But for a lot of these places, there’s no other choice.

The two villages of Ngurrara and Kurnturlpara are a case in point. We’re using the word “village” pretty liberally here—up until recently, only a handful of people lived here. Both lie about 90 minutes from Tennant Creek, smack dab in the middle of the country’s Northern Territory.

Residents had to drive 30 minutes down the road twice a week to fill up two 200-litre drums full of diesel. The cost: about $1500, week in, week out. What kind of economy can sustain that? And so the people left.

Until now. The communities have recently made the switch to solar power, building a 36kW solar panel array and a 67kWh battery storage facility. The build is structured as a lease-to-own arrangement, costing residents about $600 a week, less than half what they were spending on diesel.

Poke around this website, and you’ll find a lot of stories about green energy, and switching to solar in particular. We’re big fans of the idea. The more solar we get, the more we help the planet. It really is that easy.
 
But there’s a bigger story here too. Ultimately, this is about community independence—and that’s a very, very big deal. Now that they have power, Ngurrara and Kurnturlpara have a school, they have homes for people to live year-round. People have moved back. They’re in charge of their own destiny.

And here’s the really, really big news: as the community has come back to life, that has given the entire culture a chance to thrive. Something that wasn’t happening before. It’s hard to overstate how huge that is. Not only are we saving the planet, we’re saving ourselves.

 

GO DEEPER

Learn more about the project here
 

WHAT DO YOU THINK?