Ngardara means sun in our language

We are harnessing the sun to re-power our community and homelands, keeping Country healthy for future generations.

Ngardara Project

Ngardara means sun in the local Garrwa and Yanyuwa dialect, and the Ngardara Project is an innovative community-led approach to renewable electricity for the remote Northern Territory township of Borroloola.

Assessing the Project’s technical and commercial viability is supported by a two-year Commonwealth-funded feasibility study into more resilient energy systems in remote areas. This could possibly provide a blueprint for everyone going forward.

In 2021-22 Borroloola community members worked with Original Power, an Indigenous-led community development partner, to deliver the first phase of the project, resulting in a detailed feasibility study and a strong social and economic case to proceed to development.

The NT Government’s Power and Water Corporation (PWC) currently generates electricity for the township with diesel supplying 88% of the electricity needs. The remaining power comes from a relatively small solar PV system. The existing solar system does have the capacity to export at greater levels, but is not able due to the current configuration and operation of the diesel system.

The Ngardara Project will increase current solar and battery storage capacity using a control system that integrates with existing PWC generation. The RE system will consist of a 2.1 MWDC solar photovoltaic (PV) and 3.2 MW / 6.2 MWh battery energy storage system (BESS).

The project would allow the Borroloola electricity system to operate at around 70-80% RE fraction and up to 100% RE in some parts of the day, saving the NT Government 1.2 million litres of diesel every year.

The renewable energy system is expected to provide cheaper electricity to the Borroloola Community and improve energy security for residents and local enterprises. Also, by reducing energy poverty and diesel generation costs, the Project will improve health and social wellbeing outcomes for the community. It is envisioned that this community-led, impact investment funded approach will unlock opportunities for sustainable growth and act as an exemplar project for other regional and remote and Indigenous communities in the Territory, and across Australia.

Beyond cost savings, emissions reductions and delivering social benefits for the community, the project is aligned with the Territory Government’s strategic plan and other Government commitments and is expected to contribute 70,000 tonnes of CO2 reductions over the life of the project.

The Ngardara Project will benefit the Borroloola community by:

  Icon 1 improving power supply, cost and reliability
  Power button icon delivering more affordable and renewable energy
  hammer and spanner icon creating jobs and skills development opportunities for local mob to build, operate and maintain their own energy services
  renewal icon harnessing the natural occurring community power assets
  solidarity fist icon generating income for the community from its resources

The project will be majority community-owned. It will empower Traditional Owners to make sustainable use of Aboriginal-owned lands to harvest abundant solar energy and more efficiently use existing generation assets. The project will leverage private capital and is expected to unlock a range of economic and social benefits of renewable electricity for the community.

By providing an opportunity for the Government to reduce costs without investing upfront capital, the project is expected to contribute to the Treasury's budget repair objectives. The proposed model could be rolled out to other regional communities to integrate impact investment with improved outcomes for Aboriginal Territorians.

The project also enjoys broad support to move to the development stage from the Mara, Gudanji, Garrawa and Yanyuwa local Aboriginal clan groups and representative bodies such as Mabunji Aboriginal Resource Indigenous Corporation and Roper Gulf Regional Council.

In 2023 Ngardara Cooperative, a purpose-built community-controlled organisation was established to drive local solutions to household energy affordability and regular power disconnections. By developing a community-owned infrastructure model, this project has the potential to provide significant benefits to the community and serve as a blueprint for other remote communities.