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Renew Economy:

Investments in renewables and energy efficiency measures could be the key to improving electricity services for remote communities, as new research shows households experience frequent disconnections during periods when temperatures surge to extreme highs.

In a policy paper published in the journal Nature Energy, researchers from The Australian National University argue that technologies like rooftop solar and energy efficient appliances could help address a significant gap in energy affordability and reliability for remote Indigenous communities.

The study found that nearly all households in dozens of Northern Territory communities experienced disconnections from the electricity grid during the 2018-19 financial year, including a one-in-three chance of same-day disconnections on very hot or cold days.

Many households in remote communities are subject to prepaid arrangements for their electricity services that require households to purchase electricity credits in the form of a token or swipe card used with their electricity meter to activate a supply of power.

These arrangements can make households vulnerable to disconnection, particularly in areas where electricity demand is high during extreme temperatures and where the cost of buying power is high.

The ANU researchers examined data collected from these prepaid smart meters installed across 3,300 households in remote communities, finding that around three-quarters of households suffered more than ten disconnections in the 12-month period.

[Michael Mazengarb]

More: Renewables key to making electricity supplies affordable in remote communities

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