Caring for country – NT’s iconic Voyages Ayers Rock Resort goes solar with CEFC finance
8 September 2015
Australia’s red centre is continuing its growth as the solar centre with the installation of 1.8MW of Solar PV at the award-winning Ayers Rock Resort.
Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) CEO Oliver Yates said the CEFC had committed $4.7 million in finance to Australian renewable energy company Epuron to construct the project across five Voyages resort sites.
“It’s encouraging to see this iconic globally-recognised resort, the gateway to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, take a renewable energy leadership role by making the most of central Australia’s solar potential to generate energy and remaining sensitive to the environment,” Mr Yates said.
“The CEFC’s finance for the Ayers Rock Resort solar project is encouraging additional private sector investment in renewable energy and helping to build Australia’s technical experience in remote-area solar installation and maintenance.”
Epuron will provide the solar energy supply under a long-term agreement with the resort’s owners, Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia, which is wholly owned by the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC), a corporate Commonwealth entity.
The solar at Ayers Rock Resort is expected to generate power to cover up to 30 per cent of the resort’s daytime use, or about 15 per cent of its annual overall energy use and reduce the need for the use of trucked-in fuel. Epuron selected CPS National as its engineer, procure and construct contractor. Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia received $450,000 from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to analyse and share the learning and expertise gained from the project with industry.
Voyages Chief Executive Officer Andrew Williams said: “Using solar to help power our resort demonstrates our commitment to sustainable environmental tourism practices.”
The Ayers Rock Resort project is part of the CEFC’s growing program of solar installation in remote areas and provides a scalable and replicable model for future solar rollouts.
The CEFC has previously financed an expansion to Epuron’s Uterne solar power station at Alice Springs to 4.1MW, making it Australia’s largest completed solar farm using tracking technology and which feeds solar power into the Alice Springs grid sufficient to meet the needs of about 1,100 homes.
About Ayers Rock Resort
Ayers Rock Resort provides a variety of accommodation from the premium Sails in the Desert Hotel, Award-winning Desert Gardens Hotel, self-contained Emu Walk Apartments, the authentic Outback Pioneer Hotel and Lodge and Ayers Rock Campground. Ayers Rock Resort is managed by Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia.
Gateway to the world heritage listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Ayers Rock Resort is an oasis located in the middle of Australia’s Red Centre and reflects sensitivity to the environment and respect for the area’s traditional owners. Ayers Rock Resort encompasses five individual accommodation options from the 5-star Sails in the Desert hotel, award-winning Desert Gardens Hotel, self-contained Emu Walk Apartments, the authentic Outback Pioneer Hotel and Lodge and Ayers Rock Campground.
The Resort also offers an array of internationally acclaimed experiences for guests including the award-winning Sounds of Silence and Tali Wiru under the stars dining experiences, a host of free daily indigenous guest activities ranging from spear throwing lessons and guided garden walks to bush yarns and bush kitchen interactive lessons and cultural dance performances.
Voyages has established the National Indigenous Training Academy at Ayers Rock Resort which provides accredited enterprise based training in hospitality with guaranteed employment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People from around Australia. Along with a range of other employment and training programs, Voyages has succeeded in increasing Indigenous employment at the resort to over 250 or around one-third of the resort’s total workforce with a goal to increase this to 50 per cent.
About Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia
Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) and manages tourism and resorts on its behalf. Voyages offers unique experiences and cultural immersion in spectacular locations around Australia including Ayers Rock Resort in the Northern Territory, Home Valley Station in The Kimberley in Western Australia and the Mossman Gorge Centre, in Tropical North Queensland.
One of the key responsibilities of Voyages is to promote and sustain eco tourism, protecting pristine sites for many years to come. Voyages works collaboratively with local communities to assist them to exercise sustainable environmental tourism practices, respecting and supporting the local Indigenous cultures and offering employment and training opportunities to the local and broader Australian and Torres-Strait Islander Indigenous communities.
Profits from all business activities are re-invested in the Indigenous and resort experiences and through the various training and development programs in place around Australia.
(NOTE: The Tjintu solar PV array began generating in March 2016)
ARENA was established by the Australian Government to make renewable energy technologies more affordable and increase the amount of renewable energy used in Australia. ARENA invests in renewable energy projects, supports research and development activities, boosts job creation and industry development, and increases knowledge about renewable energy. ARENA is currently supporting more than 200 projects and is actively seeking new projects to support.
Epuron, which was established in 2003, is a leading, privately-owned Australian renewable energy company with a focus on development, ownership and operation of utility-scale renewable energy projects.
The addition of the Ayer’s Rock Resort solar project increases Epuron’s solar portfolio to 6.9MW of generating capacity.
The CEFC has previously committed $13 million finance to Epuron towards the 3.1 MW expansion of its 1MW Uterne solar power station in Alice Springs, which is one of the largest tracking solar power plants in the Southern Hemisphere.
In addition to Uterne, Epuron owns and operates three off-grid solar projects located at Ti Tree, Kalkarindji and Alpurrurulam in the Northern Territory. These projects all displace diesel usage in these remote communities.
Media release, 2015