It’s 2030, imagine if…

With the power of the sun harnessed on Country, Marlinja’s community power project led the First Nations clean energy transition. The simple, low-cost solution fast tracked the switch from diesel, providing security in a warming climate whilst unlocking new, culturally-aligned economic opportunities. The reliability of supply expanded capacity to uphold cultural responsibilities, and introduced new low carbon training pathways on Country. A research and development breakthrough in 2027 allowed the incorporation of feed-in tariffs, further supporting Indigenous autonomy as communities supplied energy to their own industrial and agricultural ventures. The NT Govt’s savings from diesel subsidies - over $30 million annually - were redirected to the expansion of Caring for Country programs, further validating the participatory essential services model.

Summary of solution

Currently Marlinja relies on high cost, polluting diesel power. Despite Australia's national wealth, NT Indigenous communities experience the highest rates of energy insecurity of any population in the world, with disconnection rates exacerbated by extreme temperatures. First Nations people living on Country play a key role in regenerating land and keeping Country healthy, but face challenges from rising temperatures and energy insecurity.

This project is a community-led initiative to install a solar microgrid to access to lower cost, clean energy, enabling the transition to nearly 100% of Marlinja's power needs from the sun, switching off diesel fired power generators saving an estimated 150,000 litres every year. Simultaneously, this project seeks to create a blueprint for the roll-out of community-owned solar across the NT's other 72 remote communities, keeping power and profit in local hands to be reinvested into their future.

Why is this solution innovative

This project offers the opportunity to demonstrate least cost, equitable forms of community renewable energy distribution as a model for remote and Indigenous communities and fast-track the transition to community-owned clean energy in the regions most vulnerable to climate impacts.

This project requires an innovative engineering and policy solution that allows direct transfer of solar credit to the back of household meters. To achieve this, the project is working with key stakeholders including energy distribution and management experts, the power utility and retailer on a ground-breaking trial that will for the first time allow community investors like Marlinja to receive direct, equitable benefit from their own solar assets.

The whole model is built around community empowerment. Such an important project to get off the ground so that other communities can adapt the model to their own context.