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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.

An aerial view looking west of the Central Power House

The Central power house at 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 last financial year, the 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 and will deliver 4.4 GWh of clean renewable electricity to local communities each year - about 40% of the total power generated, saving approximately 1 million litres of diesel a year.

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.
  • Controls upgrade for the synchronisation at Amata power station to the CPH for times of peak demand.
  • 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.

During the construction phase of the CPH upgrade, around 30-40 jobs will be created. Next Generation Electrical have committed to engage with local indigenous business to deliver 30% of the on-site labour hours in the delivery of this project.

This remote infrastructure upgrade will foster local skills development and give APY community members the opportunity to be involved in the development of electrical infrastructure projects.

An aerial view looking south of the Central Power House

This project will provide jobs, increase the technical knowledge and competence within the communities and help create economic value in the longer term for the region.

The upgrade is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021, 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 the SA Tenders and Contracts website.