Watts in the Desert: Pioneering solar farming in Australia's Outback
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This paper outlines the development of dispersed, embedded solar pv systems in Western Australia in the early 2000s. Despite the introduction of renewable energy legislation in 2001, earlier Australian governments generally ignored renewable energy as a viable alternative to fossil fuel. That is except for the government of South Australia which was moving towards wind energy in the late 1990s.
It examines the Solex project in Carnarvon WA. That project pioneered the harvest of solar energy from what was once considered the pursuit of the lunatic fringes of society, to a viable energy source for mainstream society and industry. It examines how the Solex project developed, and its contribution to the adoption and advancement of solar energy in Australia.
It considers the history and background of the project. It then considers how the Solex project made its contribution through a practical demonstration of innovative examples of existing technology. It looks at how those ideas became adopted by the broader community. Firstly by the people of Carnarvon, then those of the northwest region of Western Australia and finally the enthusiastic uptake by the general population of Australia.
It also looks at the various attitudes of Western Australian and Australian governments and utility policies throughout the early 2000s. How ambivalence was followed with enthusiastic incentives to the roll-out of alternative energy, and subsequent active opposition to alternative energy in favour of traditional fossil fuel energy generation systems, as government philosophies changed.
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