An aerial view looking west of the Central Power House

The Central power house at Umuwa

Communities at the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in northern South Australia are set to receive improved electricity reliability and reduced operating costs after the State Government commits to upgrade the Central Power House (CPH) in remote Umuwa.

A contract with Next Generation Electrical will see a $9 million upgrade to the remote electricity generation site at Umuwa and a transition from reliance on diesel generators to low carbon off-grid power.

During the 2019/20 financial year, the Central Power House (CPH) at Umuwa consumed around 2.8 million litres of diesel fuel to supply 11 GWh of electricity to APY customers on this network.

This dependence on fossil fuels to generate electricity at Umuwa sees the State Government spend about $3.6 million in diesel fuel and associated transport costs and results in about 7,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere on an annual basis.

When completed, the upgraded CPH will have around 3 MW of solar photovoltaic panels and 1 MW of battery storage capacity. It will be capable of delivering up to 4.4 GWh of clean renewable electricity to local communities each year and reduce reliance on diesel by as much as 1 million litres per annum.

Other works included as part of the upgrade are:

  • A full system protection study of the CPH network and systems shall be completed to ensure that protection systems operate according to standards and regulations.
  • Power station control upgrades for greater control and reliability of the current diesel generators, for seamless integration with solar 3 MW of photovoltaic panels and 1 MW of battery storage.
  • Telemetry upgrades, for the viewing of remote substations on the CPH network.
  • 33 kV modifications for improved network stability.
  • ClearSCADA updates for the monitoring and control of the CPH's generation and distribution network.

The upgraded CPH will see the introduction of more advanced technologies to improve network visibility at the remote site, as well as substantially reducing emissions and costs associated with diesel use and freight.

This remotely monitored technology provides enhanced real-time fault analysis and will increase the reliability of supply and assist in reducing the length of unplanned outages.

An aerial view looking south of the Central Power House

The upgrade is scheduled to be completed by early 2022, however, there may be some delays due to COVID-19 and biosecurity restrictions being implemented to ensure the safety of communities across the APY lands.

More technical detail as provided during the Invitation to Supply can be found at SA Tenders and Contracts.

Renewable energy on the RAES Scheme

At Parachilna, Coober Pedy and Oak Valley the power stations include hybrid power generation using renewable generation options, e.g. solar, wind or batteries. Diesel generation is only used when renewable generation is not available or not supplying enough electricity to meet demand.

Other RAES sites are being evaluated for the cost-effectiveness of implementing renewable energy solutions.

Parachilna

The Parachilna power station includes:

  • 120 mono-crystalline panels, producing up to 21 kW of electricity
  • a 50 kVA bi-directional inverter connected to the diesel generator controls and battery array.

The solar array generates approximately 12% of the energy used at Parachilna and saves approximately 32 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

Coober Pedy

A renewable energy and battery storage plant in Coober Pedy includes:

  • 1 megawatt (MW) of solar generation capacity
  • 4 MW of wind generation capacity
  • 1 MW / 250 kWh of battery storage.

The plant was commissioned in mid-2017 and will provide a minimum of 70% renewable energy to the town over the 20-year life of the project.

Oak Valley

The Oak Valley power station includes 18 kW of solar panels.