Alice Springs switches to solar

A town in the middle of the sunny outback has become Australia's second "Solar City".

The $37m Alice Springs Solar City follows the launch of Adelaide last October as part of a multi-million-dollar initiative to trial greener energy options and reduce carbon emissions.

Officials said the town, which gets an average of more than 9 hours sunshine a day, will now save more than 10,000 kilowatt hours in electricity demand and 12,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year.

More than 200 homes and a handful of businesses have been fitted with photovoltaic systems as part of the trial.

One thousand homes have installed solar hot water systems, and 400 homes and businesses have been given smart meters to encourage them to reduce their energy use.

Launching the scheme, Environment Minister Peter Garrett said: "Alice Springs is a unique example of how the Australian Government's Solar Cities programme is learning more about the needs of a remote community in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"We'll be collecting vital data through installing solar photovoltaic panels on homes and
businesses, rolling out solar hot water systems and smart meters and providing solar installations for iconic sites around Alice Springs."

The launch included the official opening of the Alice Solar City Smart Living Centre, to give residents advice on reducing their energy use.

Mr Garrett said: "This is what Solar Cities is all about - helping families and businesses take action on climate change and seeing what works best so that we can roll it out to the rest of the nation."

The six-year project is being funded by $12.3m from the federal government and contributions from local government, businesses and other organisations.

Townsville, Blacktown and Central Victoria are also included in the Solar Citiesprogramme, and the new federal Government pledged during last year's elections to expand the programme to include Perth and Coburg.

Kate Martin


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