Major Boost for Renewable Energy in Remote Communities

The main aboriginal organization in Australia will promote the use of best practice renewable energy programs in remote indigenous communities.

CANBERRA, ACT, AU, 2001-03-22 <> The Ministerial Council on Greenhouse has agreed to allocate A$8.4 million over four years to an Indigenous communities support program. The money is half of the discretionary funds available under the Commonwealth’s Renewable Remote Power Generation Program. The decision to allocate the funds followed endorsement by the Australian Greenhouse Office of a proposal from the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT) and the Australian Co-operative Research Centre for Renewable Energy (ACRE). The program will compliment planned capital equipment rebates from State governments and from ATSIC infrastructure programs to Indigenous communities. State Governments will target Indigenous communities with an initial budget allocation of $10 million over four years, and the funds will be expended through the provision of capital equipment rebates of up to 50 percent. The Indigenous Community Support Program will link three projects over four years, including the Community Education & Energy Information Services ($3.9 million), Improved Supply Options ($2.8 million) and Capital Grants & Capacity Building in Service Delivery ($1.7 million). The program will address deficiencies in existing renewable energy systems in small remote communities and undertake research and testing to establish best practice in installed technology and associated support in such communities. “This is a significant outcome,” says ATSIC chairman Geoff Clark. “It will have an important bearing on the future use of renewable energy in small remote Indigenous communities, reduce their reliance on diesel fuel, and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” The program will predominantly benefit communities in South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The key elements of the three projects are a Community Education & Energy Information Services, develop a reusable and adaptable audit kit to enable small community energy audits, and undertake piloting and demonstration of audits in several community projects to link audits to demand management and system design processes. The National Technology Transfer Centre at CAT will be expanded to include an advisory and outreach role for small communities undertaking renewable energy system procurement, and a database will be assembled on energy audits. ATSIC represents Indigenous peoples in Australia. CAT is an Aboriginal controlled non profit organisation that develops sustainable technologies for remote communities. ACRE is a Co-operative Research Centre that was established to create an internationally competitive renewable energy industry.

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