Renewable Energy in Remote Australian Communities (A Market Survey): Final Report

This report presents the results of one of the most extensive field market surveys detailing the use of renewable energy systems in remote area power supplies (RAPS) in Australia. 134 separate remote sites were visited encompassing over 350 separate power and water pumping systems. Householders were questioned to ascertain their attitudes to renewable energy and the installation and maintenance people talked to. 1270 mail-out survey forms were sent out with 260 replies received. The amount of data collected was prodigious.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

A major conclusion from the data collected is that renewable energy systems, used as RAPS, are not maintenance-free. Any advertising to suggest the contrary is destined to harm the RE industry’s credibility. Maintenance is mainly needed for the balance of system components and includes regular servicing and storage battery replacement. Costs for such maintenance are strongly related to the distance of the system from the nearest service centre. Lack of maintenance support for RE systems was one of the main complaints heard during the survey and is thought to be one of the major issues to be tackled to obtain a viable RE product in remote areas.

This report details the findings of a market research exercise to look at the state of renewable energy in the remote regions of Australia from a customer’s perspective. The research was undertaken by the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT), as an Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Renewable Energy (ACRE) project. The long-term aim of the project is to create an internationally competitive renewable energy (RE) industry in Australia.

The formal project objective was to: “identify and establish opportunities for the application of renewable energy power systems to meet the service infrastructure needs of remote communities.”

Bob Lloyd
David Lowe
Laurence Wilson
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