In May 2021 residents of Marlinja outstation, in the Northern Territory's Barkly region, took their first steps towards re-powering the community with low cost, clean energy.
The Marlinja Solar Community Centre is a partnership between the Marlinja community and Original Power’s Clean Energy Communities Project. Our project works to empower First Nations communities to take the lead on the renewable energy revolution through incubation of community-owned solar projects across the Northern Territory.
Marlinja is one of many Territory remote communities experencing extreme energy insecurity, with high household power costs and lengthy system outages that mean resident's experience regular disruptive electricity disconnection. With Wet season temperatures in the mid-40s and overcrowded, poorly designed houses, the inability to afford electricity for essential needs has been an ongoing concern.
The solar-powered community centre is the first step in securing a lower cost, clean energy future for Marlinja residents, offering a hub for kids, family and cultural activities and a reprieve from frequent power blackouts. But it’s just part of a much larger plan for the community to go 100 per cent renewable and generate its own electricity from solar power with battery storage.
"Solar powering the Territory’s remote communities makes so much sense, and community-ownership models like that being advanced at Marlinja are the best way to ensure that the benefits of cheaper, cleaner energy are delivered directly back to local families and businesses,” said Original Power Executive Director Karrina Nolan.
Community members are engaged in project planning, installation of rooftop solar panels, and training in electrical technology and carpentry skills. Marlinja school students also took part in a Solar Schools Day to learn more about how solar power works for the community.
Raymond Dixon, a Mudburra community leader who has helped guide the project to completion said of the community’s ambitions:
“For years now our region has featured in the development plans of big companies, whether it be gas fracking, mining and more recently even big solar farms. But these projects offer next to no local benefit, and plenty of risk to our land, water and cultural heritage,” he said.
“We see community-owned solar power as a way to meet the needs of local families and businesses, keeping power and any profit in local hands so we can reinvest that into our future and start making positive changes in our people’s lives.
“We’d like to see more support from the Northern Territory government to help our communities go all the way with solar power. Not only will it help locals but we’re helping the government meet its economic recovery plans, their Renewable Energy Target and Climate Action plans too so its really a win-win for the whole Territory and our shared future.”
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