'World's largest solar farm' must benefit all Territorians
Decarbonisation and the expansion of renewable energy are essential in mitigating the impacts of climate change. ALEC supports Sun Cable’s plan to build the world’s largest solar farm in the Territory, provided it brings local benefits in terms of jobs, affordable energy and support for local Aboriginal communities.
Too often, large-scale developments in the resources and energy sector ignore the communities in which their projects are based. Our submission outlines a number of recommendations and four key priority areas to ensure this ground-breaking solar project benefits Territorians.
- The Sun Cable development guarantees electricity supply for the Darwin-Katherine Grid, with the potential to also power the Tennant Creek grid - ensuring affordable and reliable electricity for Territorians;
- Embed local benefit into the project, with safeguards in place promoting local employment, including local Aboriginal employment;
- Invest in, support and provide electricity to nearby communities, including remote Aboriginal communities and provide a pathway for these areas to participate in the developmental process;
- Support local Aboriginal ranger programs to manage the disturbed site, acknowledging the need for expert and ongoing land management;
- Sun Cable works with the Northern Territory Government and industry to implement a commercial solar panel recycling facility;
- The electricity superhighway feasibility study incorporates the Sun Cable development, making the Darwin to Alice Springs HVDC transmission line a matter of priority.
It is vital that a development of this scale provides opportunities and investment into nearby local economies, not just to stakeholders in Singapore and other ASEAN countries. It is important that the Sun Cable development guarantees electricity supply to power the Darwin-Katherine Grid with affordable and reliable renewable energy, with the potential to also power the Tennant Creek grid. Safeguards for local jobs from nearby towns and remote Aboriginal communities must also be prioritised and meaningful opportunities for the community to participate in the developmental process be embedded in the project design.
The benefits of the Sun Cable development should extend to supporting local Aboriginal communities as a matter of priority. ALEC considers it essential that the development engage with Traditional Owners and the local Aboriginal community, and recognise their sovereignty to the land.
The protection of sacred sites is fundamental. Sun Cable should support local Aboriginal ranger groups and the Northern Land Council to manage the site, acknowledging the need for expert and ongoing land management in the development zone.
The Sun Cable development will result in the clearing of a huge amount of land. It is vital that ecologically significant species and ecosystems are identified, and to the greatest extent possible, preserved. If ecologically important land is cleared, ALEC considers that it is vital that best practice biodiversity offsets are implemented. This project should ensure that environmental degradation is minimised as far as possible, and it does not become a blight upon the land.
The full life-cycle impacts of the development should be managed up front. ALEC sees that it is critical that Sun Cable work with the Northern Territory Government and relevant industry to ensure that a state-of-the-art solar panel recycling centre is established.
ALEC seeks that Northern Territory Government work with Sun Cable to ensure their solar farm is integrated into a larger Northern Territory renewable energy action plan. Key priorities include the Territory Government investigating the feasibility of local manufacturing to play a greater role in renewable energy developments and providing support for local manufacturing, by committing to a commercial solar panel recycling facility.
The NT Government should integrate the Sun Cable development into their electric superhighway, connecting Darwin and Alice Springs via a HVDC transmission line and use this opportunity to scale up the Territory’s renewable energy transition, building off their successful ‘Roadmaps to Renewables’ framework.