A new "electric superhighway" proposed for the Territory will be exactly what we need to get the local economy moving again, particularly for regional NT.
Territorians should be poised to take advantage of a rising renewables boom after the release of the NT Government’s Economic Reconstruction Commission’s interim report. It recommended the Territory and Australian governments jointly undertake a study into an electricity highway based on high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission links between Darwin and Alice Springs.
According to the report, the scope of this study should consider a design that would enable multiple renewable energy projects up and down the spine of the Northern Territory, potentially supporting the creation of renewable energy zones, as well as assess the viability of a link from the Territory to the National Electricity Grid to supply the east coast with cheap Territorian renewable power.
This recommendation echoes those made by a diverse range of voices: a similar proposal was made in the Country Liberal Party’s recently released election platform for clean energy, we at the Environment Centre NT proposed it in our 10-point plan to repower the NT with renewables, and it was part of a public submission to the Commission by the Indigenous Australian organisation Original Power with support from the Electrical Trades Union.
An electric superhighway has the potential to create immediate jobs, lower the cost of electricity for domestic and industrial users and underpin economic development for Indigenous communities that plan to build and generate solar capacity on their land in solar hotspots, such as those in the Barkly.
Karrina Nolan, Executive Director of Original Power said of their submission, "If done right, this model of development can put First Nations communities and Territory workers in the front-seat for the renewable energy revolution and drive social, economic and climate benefits for generations".
David Hayes, NT Organiser for the NT Electrical Trades Union, called the electrical superhighway “a significant and positive first step towards future-proofing a strong, publicly owned Northern Territory electricity network” and said his union would work with the NT Government to maximise local jobs, training and local manufacturing opportunities generated by such a project.
At the Environment Centre NT, we’ve been excited to see so many of our renewable energy ideas for the Territory recently backed up by Territorian political leaders, including our calls to kickstart a renewable hydrogen industry. This past month the Gunner government released their renewable hydrogen strategy and a renewable hydrogen pilot program was proposed in the CLP’s energy policy.
Anyone reading the tea leaves of the NT Government’s Economic Reconstruction Commission’s interim report will know the Northern Territory is gearing up for a renewables boom. And it’s vital the NT's growing and proudly local solar industry is supported in their efforts to lead the way.