United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development


Plenary Session ? Meeting growing energy needs for energy services through
increased use of renewable energy ?.
Wednesday 3 May 10am ? 1:00pm
Australian Statement ? Renewable energy ? remote power supply
It is clear that renewable energy has a role to play in securing future energy needs,
especially for remote or rural populations which are not likely to have access to regular
grid source of energy. However, in considering how to meet our growing energy needs
through technology options, it is important that we each assess options on their merits and
not adopt a simplistic generalised approach.
Many countries have highlighted the high cost of renewable and advanced energy
technologies. While fossil fuels will generally represent a lower cost source of energy
than renewable energy sources, this situation will not apply in all situations such as small
scale applications in rural and remote areas. Australia has developed expertise in
providing renewable energy to remote communities /localities which may be of interest to
other countries.
Australia?s geography creates challenges to the supply of electricity with Australians
living in remote areas often having to make do with variable and intermittent power.
These communities often rely on diesel or small petrol generators for electricity which
have a high cost in terms of fuel and labour required to refuel, transport and maintain, and
associated health and welfare costs.
In 2002 we established a programme, the Bushlight programme, designed to increase
access to sustainable renewable energy services for remote indigenous communities,
reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing diesel consumption and stimulate further
development and deployment of remote renewable energy systems.
A key element of the program is an emphasis on adapting services and technologies to
local conditions. Renewable energy plans are developed with the community and the
community is trained and supported in the installation and ongoing maintenance of the
We have found that establishing appropriate local standards, supporting industry training
and developing suitable community information and education are central to building a
sustainable renewable energy industry able to meet the needs of remote communities in
We have also found that with a reliable 24hr power supply, provided by the installed
renewable energy systems, communities are able to reallocate resources away from
inefficient energy services and towards community development projects. Improved
health and welfare has resulted from a desire for community members to stay on the
homeland, a reduced need to visit town fo r diesel, food or entertainment, with the ability
to refrigerate perishables, use small power tools, wash clothes and re-establish schools.