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Reviewing the Viability of Renewable Energy in Community Electrification: The Case of Remote Western Australian Communities


  • Byrnes, Liam
  • Brown, Colin
  • Wagner, Liam
  • Foster, John


Governments and utilities are struggling to respond to the increasing costs of energy supply in remote networks while still meeting social objectives of access and availability. Due to vast distances and sparse population, remote Australian communities are generally electrified by distributed networks using diesel generation. This is expensive, environmentally damaging and fails to exploit vast renewable resources available. These communities are often regarded as “low hanging fruit” from a renewable energy deployment perspective. This paper examines why picking that fruit is not straightforward. In Western Australia, the local electricity distribution utility responsible for remote networks, developed a scheme to incentivise renewable energy deployment in remote communities. This scheme aims to facilitate renewable energy deployment from the “bottom up” by providing a feed-in tariff capped at $0.50/kWh, to reduce the supply cost and environmental damage from diesel generation. This incentive is designed to encourage communities to fund installation. However, to date, there has been limited deployment of renewables in remote communities. The viability of renewable energy in three indigenous communities in the Kimberley region of Western Australia all connected to isolated, diesel powered networks is assessed. Both the potential benefits that can arise across remote communities as well as the barriers to deployment are considered. Renewable energy installation is found to benefit the utility but can also benefit communities subject to their cost of capital and to the imposition of connection charges. However a range of barriers are frustrating deployment and a dynamic and adaptive approach that recognises local challenges and provides the communities with a pathway to installation is needed.

Suggested Citation

  • Byrnes, Liam & Brown, Colin & Wagner, Liam & Foster, John, 2015. "Reviewing the Viability of Renewable Energy in Community Electrification: The Case of Remote Western Australian Communities," MPRA Paper 61929, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:61929

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Angelopoulos, Dimitrios & Doukas, Haris & Psarras, John & Stamtsis, Giorgos, 2017. "Risk-based analysis and policy implications for renewable energy investments in Greece," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 512-523.
    2. Byrnes, Liam & Brown, Colin, 2015. "Australia’s renewable energy policy: the case for intervention," MPRA Paper 64977, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Foster, John & Wagner, Liam & Liebman, Ariel, 2017. "Economic and investment models for future grids: Final Report Project 3," MPRA Paper 78866, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. repec:eee:rensus:v:77:y:2017:i:c:p:1309-1325 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:eee:rensus:v:79:y:2017:i:c:p:669-680 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Rural Electrification; Electricity; Energy Policy; Energy Economics;

    JEL classification:

    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • Q40 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - General
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy

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