Round the clock milestone for renewable energy in King Island

Hydro Tasmania’s world-leading renewable energy integration project on King Island has attained another huge milestone.

The King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project (KIREIP) aims to displace the use of diesel fuel to supply energy needs, by using a combination of renewable and enabling technologies.

This month, KIREIP supplied all of the island’s energy needs through renewables for a continuous period of nearly 33 hours, an unprecedented milestone.

“What makes this significant is that we’ve used renewable energy to support the needs of an entire community, which includes residential and industrial loads, for a full day,” said Project Director Simon Gamble.

“Our system has successfully managed the peaks in energy consumption that occur over the course of a full day, including early evening when demand is at its highest and there’s no solar contribution.

“It’s the first time anywhere that this has been achieved at a megawatt scale for such an extended period of time.”

KIREIP has achieved two full days in recent weeks of zero diesel operation, when diesel supply is completely turned off and replaced by renewable energy.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) provided $6 million funding to support the $18.25 million King Island project.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the milestone was a live example of how different renewable energy and enabling technologies can work together to provide stable, reliable power around the clock.

“Hydro Tasmania is using a unique combination of technologies to reduce King island’s reliance on expensive shipped in diesel and provide residents with a more secure and reliable energy source.

“This innovative energy solution could benefit off-grid communities on islands and in regional mainland Australia. I look forward to seeing Hydro Tasmania continue to refine and commercialise its approach in other locations.”

KIREIP brings together a portfolio of new and existing technologies to increase renewable energy use on King Island and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Its success is being replicated through a similar project on Flinders Island, designed to prepare the solution for application internationally for remote and off-grid renewable energy supply.

“The aim of KIREIP is to reduce diesel consumption for power generation on King Island by more than 65 per cent on average every year, and provide for the ability to generate 100 per cent of the island’s power needs using renewable energy when conditions allow,” said Mr Gamble.

“Achieving 100 per cent renewable energy penetration in large off-grid systems has remained elusive until now, and is very difficult to achieve given the need to maintain reliability and security of power supply under highly variable wind and solar conditions.”

Until now, operation of diesel engines has always been required to provide backup to the renewable system. Hydro Tasmania’s hybrid system provides backup through technologies that do not burn diesel fuel, allowing for the diesels to be turned off and greater fuel savings.

To achieve this world-leading result Hydro Tasmania has used its own advanced automated control systems and dynamic load control technology coupled with energy storage and a standard flywheel uninterruptible power supply system, commonly used in hospitals and telephone exchanges.

This system enables all diesel generation to be switched off when there is sufficient wind and solar power to meet customer demand. The transition from diesel power station to 100 per cent renewables, and back again when and as required, is entirely automated and allows the station to achieve significant diesel savings while operating unstaffed.

“Hydro Tasmania’s integrated solution ensures that rapid and unpredictable changes in sun or wind conditions don’t cause interruptions to power supply – even when these are the only source of generation available.

“Although there are remote area power systems in some parts of the world that are capable of supplying the energy needs of single homes or small villages, this is the first remote system on this scale capable of supplying the power needs of an entire community, including industrial customers and an extensive distribution network, solely through wind and solar energy.”

Hydro Tasmania is currently commercialising its off-grid energy solutions and exporting these to customers in Australia, and in due course to the Pacific and the South East Asia region.

“KIREIP demonstrates the important role that renewable energy can play in displacing high-cost, emission-intensive fossil fuels from the off-grid sector,” Mr Gamble said.

“Diesel fuel remains the single largest expense in these remote systems and using renewable energy makes good economic sense.”

KIREIP is an initiative of Hydro Tasmania and was developed with the assistance of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Tasmanian Government.

For more information contact Samantha Meyer on +61 3 6230 5746


ARENA was established by the Australian Government to make renewable energy technologies more affordable and increase the amount of renewable energy used in Australia. ARENA invests in renewable energy projects, supports research and development activities, boosts job creation and industry development, and increases knowledge about renewable energy. ARENA is currently supporting more than 200 projects and is actively seeking new projects to support.

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