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Marlinja Microgrid

Marlinja is one of many Northern Territory remote communities experiencing extreme energy insecurity, with high household power costs and lengthy system outages that mean resident's experience regular disruptive electricity disconnection. 

Located in the Barkly region, Marlinja sits halfway between Alice Springs and Darwin, around 25 kms north of Elliot. 

The community is home to approximately 60 residents, situated on the traditional lands of the Mudburra and Jingili people. 

The Marlinja Microgrid project is Phase Two of a partnership between the Marlinja community and Original Power which began in 2019 when Marlinja residents invited them to partner on developing the renewable energy solution. 

Phase One saw the connection of a solar array on the Community Centre, reducing power bills.

Residents were involved in project planning, installation of rooftop solar panels, and received training in electrical technology and carpentry skills. Marlinja school students also took part in a Solar Schools Day to learn more about how solar power works for the community.

Phase Two includes a community-wide transition to reduce reliance on the Power and Water Corporation-operated diesel-gas hybrid power station located in Elliott, with more locally produced solar and battery storage.

The Marlinja Microgrid installed in June 2024 is a grid-connected 100 kilowatt (kw) solar array provided by technology partner 5B and a 136Kwh battery, aiming to provide a majority of residents' daytime and nighttime energy needs.

A key feature of the Marlinja project is an innovative benefit sharing trial developed by Original Power with support from Northern Territory government retailer Jacana Energy to share solar cost savings direct to the meters of Marlinja households. For the first time, First Nations pre-paid meter customers will benefit directly and equitably from their own solar investment, similar to the behind-the-meter benefits received by households with rooftop solar. 

Original Power was involved in managing the development of the project from design through to fundraising, installation and commissioning, with plans for ongoing support, training and employment for community in the operational and maintenance phases. 

Community members were engaged in project planning, installation of solar panels, and training in electrical technology and carpentry skills.

The Marlinja Microgrid is the first grid-connected First Nations community-owned renewable energy project in Australia, blazing a trail for other remote communities to begin designing their own renewable energy solutions and improving community wellbeing with lower cost, more reliable electricity.

Watch a video of the community centre solar installation