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25 remote communities powered by the sun. Each community’s Energy Management System provides the monitoring and control needed to deliver a reliable, consistent solar-hybrid electricity supply.



25 remote communities powered by the sun. Each community’s Energy Management System provides the monitoring and control needed to deliver all 25 communities with a reliable, consistent solar-hybrid electricity supply.


Solar and battery control system integration, remote software updates, electrical system integration, switchboard manufacture, remote communications, energy storage and load
management systems.


Multiple locations, Northern Territory, Australia

Dow Airen, Manager Energy Strategy, Power and Water Corporation

"The SETuP program has transformed the way our remote communities get their power. SAGE were instrumental in our ability to roll this out with speed and ease. "


Powering Australia’s most remote regions

Power and Water Corporation is responsible for electricity transmission and distribution, and provides water and sewerage services across the Northern Territory — an area with more than 1.3 million square kilometres and some of the most vastly distributed communities in the world.
As such, the utility must provide the bulk of power to these communities via remote power generation sites. These sites have, until recently, been powered through diesel generators that are costly to run, challenging to fuel and unsustainable.

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Solar SETuP

Power and Water sought to transform the way these communities were powered by rolling out solar under the Northern Territory Solar Energy Transformation Program (Solar SETuP). The four-year ARENA program aimed to deliver two off-grid solar solution types for 25 remote communities:

  1. Solar-diesel hybrid for 24 remote communities
    Solar would subsidise diesel generation to reduce fuel consumption by 15%
  2. Solar-battery-diesel hybrid at Nauiyu (Daly River)
    A 1MW solar facility and an 800kW battery would replace diesel in prime solar hours. The system aimed to meet 50% of the community’s annual electricity needs.


The ‘brains’ behind a successful solar system

  1. Standard solar/diesel solution
    To effectively power these communities via solar and diesel, the sites would need to be remotely controlled via a centralised control system in Darwin. Operators would also need to see solar production and diesel generator trend and historical data. They would need to be able to curtail each site’s solar output when required, to balance the load and protect against outages.
  2. Nauiyu solar/battery solution
    In addition to this functionality, the Daly River system would need to incorporate advanced energy storage technology to enable “diesel-off” run mode where the battery supplements electricity supply during cloud cover. Effectively, this would maximise the solar intake and reduce generator use to provide a reliable, 24/7 power supply.

Getting it done
Control system and automation experts SAGE Automation were engaged to deliver this critical component of the system. Having delivered and serviced more than 50 of Power and Water’s control systems since 2007, SAGE were able to deliver a maintainable and scalable solution to allow the rapid rollout of solar.


SAGE delivered the automation and control needed to transform 25 remote power stations into ‘solar-diesel hybrid’ power stations. This included delivering remote control, monitoring and load management capability of different generation assets such as solar, diesel and battery storage. A high degree of collaboration with the Power and Water team was critical to the project’s success.

SAGE solution:

  1. Reduced project cost: One modular software code delivered across 30 sites allowed scalable, fast, low-cost rollout of solar systems.
  2. Remote delivery: Control system software upgrades were performed remotely via satellite communication at Power and Water’s Darwin control centre.
  3. Australian-made: Main switchboards, control panels, and a specialist ‘switchboard extension tier’ for battery connection were manufactured at SAGE’s Advanced Manufacturing Facility.
  4. Reduced lifetime maintenance costs: System commonality ensured any technician, mechanic or operator could work across all sites.


Technology used

The solar remote monitoring and control systems solution used: Schneider Modicon M340 PLC, Woodwood easYgen generator controllers, Schneider PowerLogic PM5560 power meters, Citect SCADA, OSIsoft PI historian, PLC, SMA cluster controller and satellite communication.


Project outcomes

  • Smart energy control: remote control, monitoring and load management of different generation assets
  • Real-time energy management: live and historical production data and weather forecasting ensures reliable supply
  • Commonality: more than 25/50 sites with solar-hybrid SAGE control systems
  • Visibility: track energy consumption and diesel savings in real time
  • Reliability: post-project support to all sites
  • Low cost, rapid rollout: modular code allows scaled rollout of solar system
  • Reduced lifetime maintenance: system commonality


Community outcomes

Power and Water have harnessed the Northern Territory’s biggest asset – immense land and sun availability, to provide its remote communities with a sustainable, natural power source.
Indigenous communities support the solar initiative that ‘generates energy from country’ and it will support remote communities well into the future.

Snapshot results:

  • 25 remote communities part-powered by solar in 2018
  • 10 MW solar capacity installed
  • 1 community 50% powered by solar
  • 15% reduction in fuel
  • 4 million litres of fuel saved per year

Nauiyu / Daly River snapshot

Project: Nauiyu solar-battery

Aim: Replace daytime diesel generation with battery stored power to supplement intermittent solar supply. Diesel would come online at night.

Challenge: Technically, the control system would need to integrate with battery, diesel generators, and the power station and be able to shift between energy sources seamlessly

Solution: Advanced energy management control system including Software engineering, Design, Manufacture,  Commissioning

Outcome: Power and Water achieved 50% of community power with solar and battery alone. The site runs on average 12 hours in “diesel-off mode” each day, typically 9 am to 9 pm. Reliability and monitoring are ensured with the remote control system and SCADA interface.

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