King Island has recently achieved a milestone in the push to switch the island to 100% renewable energy. Hydro Tasmania and the King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project has placed wind turbines and solar panels on the island in an attempt to reduce the use of back-up diesel generators by 65 per cent.

Recently the island achieved extended periods of 100 per cent renewable energy in what is called a world first for a grid of this size, completely switching off the generators for 90 minutes and relying solely on wind power.

Previous projects of 100 per cent renewable energy have been on a much smaller scale. Simon Gamble of Hydro Tasmania says that a renewable project this size has not been achieved anywhere else, and now they are hoping to achieve extended periods of 100 per cent renewable usage.

“Having established that zero diesel operation is possible, we are now looking to increase the duration for which we can operate in this mode.” he said.

The King Island project combines 2.45MW of wind, and solar power with storage devices and an automated control system. There is currently a 100kW solar PV array and an additional 100kW on household rooftops. The automated control system allows for the diesel generation to be switched off automatically, allowing the station to achieve savings whilst being un-staffed. Later this year customer load control will be introduced and an enhanced 3MW battery array. So far they have achieved zero diesel operation in off peak times of around 90 minutes, when consumer demand is the lowest.

The King Island system has been designed to account for rapidly changing weather conditions without interrupting power supply. Hydro Tasmania hopes to increase 100 per cent renewable periods in the coming months.