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Improved renewable power for UMUWA.

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Australian Government Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts Peter Garrett

South Australian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Jay Weatherill

PG/43 20 March 2008


The Australian and South Australian Governments will provide more than $1.2 million to upgrade the Umuwa solar power station in the far north-west of South Australia.

“This upgrade will provide a reliable, renewable power source to the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara people in one of the state’s most remote regions,” Federal Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Peter Garrett said.

“The funding will help boost the annual electrical output of the Umuwa solar power station from 335 megawatt hours to 715 megawatt hours a year, saving an additional 140,000 litres of diesel and more than 400 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

“This upgrade is more cost-effective than constructing more dishes, but the benefits will be the same - low-cost, cleaner electricity for a remote community.

“The Australian Government is committed to building solar capacity in Australia. Umuwa is a great example of the benefits clean energy systems can provide to Indigenous communities in remote parts of our country.”

The increased generation capacity will also help reduce reliance on diesel generators for the communities of Ernabella (Pukatja) and Kenmore Park (Yunyarinyi), along with Fregon (Kaltjiti), Mimili, Indulkana and Amata that have recently been connected to the power distribution grid.

“The State Government is providing funding of $663,000 for this project, which further consolidates South Australia’s reputation as a leader in renewable energy initiatives,” South Australian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Jay Weatherill said.

“South Australia already provides nearly half of the nation’s wind power, more than 45 percent of the nation’s grid-connected solar power, and is home to more than 80 percent of all geothermal exploration activity in Australia.

“This announcement comes just after the Australian and South Australian Governments jointly announced that Australia’s largest off-grid solar power station is to be built at Coober Pedy in South Australia’s far north.

“The South Australian Government's combined investment of over $1.3 million, will see delivery of over $8.3 million worth of renewable energy projects in Coober Pedy and Umuwa over the next two years.”

The Umuwa solar power station was commissioned in 2003 by Australian company Solar Systems and consists of 10 solar dishes. Since then, new high performance photovoltaic cells have come onto the market.

Solar Systems' dish technology uses curved mirrors to concentrate sunlight by 500 times onto 35 per cent efficient photovoltaic cells, which are the best available. The combination of

concentrating sunlight and using high cell efficiency provides very high performance electricity generation.

The Australian Government’s contribution of $563,000 will be provided by the Renewable Remote Power Generation Program. This program helps Australians gain access to renewable power supplies where they live outside of major cities and towns and are not connected to the main electricity grid.

More information: Australian Government’s Renewable Remote Power Generation Program: Renewable energy in South Australia: Solar Systems:

Media contact: Ben Pratt 0419 968 734(Minister Garrett’s office) Bronwyn Hurrell 08 8463 3438 (Minister Weatherill’s office)