Two large solar concentrator dishes will be installed at the Alice Springs Airport to harness sunlight into energy when the central Australian town joins Adelaide, Townsville and Blacktown as a designated Solar City.

Together the four Solar Cities will:

- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 76,000 tonnes each year; - Install over 3,200 solar photovoltaic panels on private and public housing and other buildings; - Conduct almost 7,000 energy efficiency consultations; and, - Teach more than 250,000 residents and businesses how to reduce their energy use and save money.

As part of the Alice Springs project, solar photovoltaic panels will be installed on 230 homes and businesses, 1,000 solar hot water systems will be installed, 400 smart meters will be rolled out and the Alice Springs Airport, the Araluen Arts Precinct, the Town Pool and the Ilparpa Sewerage Treatment facility will all be supplied with heat and power generated from new solar installations.

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Alice Springs’ status as a Solar City is well deserved. The town has already embraced solar energy technology, with half of its households already using solar hot water systems.

The further funding under the Solar Cities program is expected to deliver initiatives which will result in annual savings of about 10,500 kWh in electricity demand and 12,000 tonnes in greenhouse gas emissions.

“Alice Springs has the ingredients for a successful Solar City – the highest concentration of sun in Australia, an international tourist hub with a rich natural and cultural heritage, and a committed and enthusiastic consortium willing to put the project into action,” said Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The consortium – comprising the Alice Springs Town Council, Northern Territory Government, Northern Territory Power and Water Corporation, the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre, Arid Lands Environment Centre, Tangentyere Council and the Northern Territory Chamber of Commerce – will contribute $17 million to the project (in addition to the $12.3 million federal funding).

Meanwhile, in other Solar Cities news, the $30 million Townsville project has reached a significant milestone with the signing of the contract between consortium leader Ergon Energy and the Federal Government.

“Over the next few months, Ergon Energy will work through contractual arrangements with their consortium members and finalise planning, recruitment, design and other logistics associated with project rollout,” said Queensland Minister for Energy and Mines Geoff Wilson.

The project will involve 1,700 free energy audits, 2,500 smart meters and 500 solar PV systems installed in selected homes and public buildings.