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Renewed solar opportunities for the Indian Ocean Territories

Number: A25/2020

Date: 24 June 2020

The Australian Government's Indian Ocean Territories (IOT) Power Service is changing the way renewable energy is regulated on Christmas Island (CI) and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands (CKI), to generate greater local interest in, and uptake of, solar systems.

The changes will include a reduced need for batteries for small systems, bringing down installation costs, and providing certainty on the rates for electricity generated for the grid through to the end of 2031.

These improvements are aimed at further increasing power generated from renewable solar, decreasing our reliance on diesel, and lowering power bills for locals and small businesses.

The Australian Government recognises that the IOT communities are seeking to have the majority of their energy requirements met via renewable sources by 2030, as outlined in the Our Christmas Island 2030 Strategic Plan and Our Cocos (Keeling) Islands 2030 Strategic Plan, and wants to ensure its regulatory framework best supports this.

The Renewable Energy Benefits Scheme (the Scheme) was introduced in the IOT in 2011 to encourage uptake of solar energy. A feed-in tariff (FIT) pays people for excess electricity generated by eligible solar systems.

Changes were made to the Scheme in December 2018 to revitalise interest in solar energy, including removing limits on system size.

This has resulted in several proposals being received for large systems. To support consideration of these proposals, and ensure residents and small businesses have continued access to a sustainable level of Scheme benefits, the following changes will be introduced from 01 July 2020:

  • Batteries will no longer be required for new small solar power systems up to 10kW on CI, and less than 3kW on CKI;
  • 100kW of Scheme capacity will be set aside for new small systems of 10kW or less;
  • Small systems of 10kW or less will be allowed to be installed at more than one owned property;
  • The 50 cent/kWh FIT rate will continue until 1 December 2021, the 10th anniversary of the Scheme, after which it will incrementally decrease (40 cents to December 2024, 35 cents to December 2027, and 30 cents to December 2031); and
  • Grid connected systems larger than 10kW large systems will continue to require a battery, and will be considered on a case-by-case basis with a power purchase agreement to be negotiated with the IOT Power Service.

If you require further information, please contact IOTPowerService@infrastructure.gov.au.

Natasha Griggs
Administrator of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands