Powering the construction of renewable energy sources in remote communities
This is one of the questions addressed by the First Nations Clean Energy Network as part of their industry partnerships that promote best practice standards.
“We help inform and educate the industry on how to meaningfully and appropriately work and engage with Indigenous communities. And we advocate for the government to require companies to adhere to an appropriate code of conduct in their dealings with communities. »
But as Heard points out, the success of renewable energy infrastructure in remote communities is not just about energy policy. Housing is also a crucial issue.
“Most people in the communities cannot own their homes, so they don’t have the option of installing solar panels. Many homes are unsuitable for the climate, so air conditioners run longer than they should. Many factors influence how we can make renewable energy viable and available to remote communities.
Like Asten, Heard is also realistic about the costs involved. “Just bringing workers into the communities themselves can be incredibly expensive. These communities rarely have additional accommodation and often the workers also have to provide their own food. Then there is the cost of parts and labor. Thus, the cost in dollars per watt of installing renewable energy systems can be surprisingly high.
But, again, not as expensive as the alternative. On this point, she agrees with Asten.
“I work with two communities in Western Australia that are 100% diesel dependent. Sometimes they will go through 1000L in one day. The department that supplies this fuel loses a hundred thousand dollars a year. It’s just crazy. It doesn’t have to be that way.
“Investing in renewable energy in remote communities is definitely worth it. Communities, utilities and governments can save money with renewable energy despite all the challenges. It just makes financial sense, as well as environmental sense, and could help provide affordable energy security to these communities.
All photos courtesy of the First Nations Clean Energy Network.