Darwin - Quality Solar NT & SEM Group
Narrator: This is a land as old as time itself. It's where the locals have evolved and flourished to deal with extremes, and in doing so have adapted in their own unique way to life on this land. It's where prehistoric animals still roam today, unchanged by evolution that made them perfect 12 million years ago. In fact, it's all walks of life here that must adapt to survive. For even the tiniest of creatures, like the Termite have learned to overcome their size with ingenuity and sheer determination. These insects, or nature's architects, have taken decades to create a home that's been designed to keep them sheltered from the weather. For others, escape is best made with a splash in one of its many watering holes. Nature here is unrelenting, and it's these ancient waters that have run so long, they've now edged their own path through this once solid stone. Where these waters end, trickling streams have carved magnificent formations. Or in some cases, it's these streams that have become towering waterfalls. This is the land of one of the oldest civilisations on earth. And it's the early traces of our indigenous Australians that still remain here 50,000 years later. Everything in this part of the world has learned to survive through the harshest of conditions, in all of the elements. From the driest droughts, to flooding wet seasons. To live here you have to be built tough, be resilient, and learn to make use of everything in your environment. As the sun beats down on this parched Earth, it's this energy that is now being captured and harnessed by the locals.
Doug: We run two types of cattle here. Some Grey Brahman and the Drought Master.
Narrator: Doug's 600 acre farm is stationed in the Adelaide River around 90 minutes out of Darwin. And it's a constant battle to keep his livestock fed and watered, especially in the dry season.
Doug: If you want your solar on, all you do is just turn this switch on here, and give it a minute and it'll crank up and out comes our water.
Narrator: The land here is as dry as a bone, and although this solar powered system might look small it's more than strong enough to run this bore pump, which is tapping into the underground aquifers that provide water for his cattle.
Doug: This time of the year we do run out of water. So we've put the extra bore in to have the extra water.
Narrator: Where water is the lifeblood for cattle farmers, for schools its budgets that are just as vital.
MaryRose: It is stressful working with budgets. With the savings on this solar, I can use the money far better in areas for our students.
Narrator: Hand picked as one of the first schools to share in the Northern Territory governments free rooftop solar for schools programme, the installation of these commercial grade systems around Darwin are helping to power campuses like these from sunrise to sunset.
MaryRose: At the moment, this school generates around 480 kilowatt hours per day, offsetting their usage.
Narrator: In the suburbs, the uptake in solar power has been fueled mostly by the economics of decreasing the cost of living, by generating your very own clean and green solar power. With the added advantage of incentives that pay Darwin homeowners properly for the excess solar electricity that they feed in to the local power grid.
Matt: With solar people have the ability to take care of their own power. Be able to utilise their power however they want. To store their power, sell their power.
Bill: It's amazing how much dust is on them.
Narrator: there is also a very practical side to building in Darwin. Because lots of sunshine and very little rain creates new challenges.
Bill: So in Darwin, the top end, we get a lot of dust, it's a dusty environment. We haven't had any rain since February, March, this year and we're now nearly halfway through August. That's another two months before we will get any rain at all.
Narrator: So installing ground mounts is an equally practical solution to the obstacles faced by the people living in these rural communities. Not only does it make cleaning the dust quicker, easier and safer, but it also keeps the panels much cooler.
Bill: When we get up into October, November, December, when our ambient temperature gets up to 35 degrees humidity 98%, it's going to get a nice cool breeze blowing under it. And the cooler you keep the panels, better they perform.
Narrator: And the better they perform means these homeowners will be generating the most amount of electricity that they can, to get the best financial returns throughout the day. History has also taught Territorians to build their homes strong. With the strictest building laws in the country and possibly the world, it's these regulations that have been enacted over the years since cyclone Tracy devastated the city of Darwin on that Christmas day of 1974.
Bill: Here in Darwin, we have the toughest building regulations in the world. We've done here in Darwin, in conjunction with my engineer, is that we've done the wind loading tests. And if they're a good quality system, good quality panel, you're not going to have a problem.
Simon: We've tested the panel. It came up with six KPA. The pressures that would be involved in cyclone Tracy, this panel would have withstood those pressures.
Narrator: The results of the pressures exerted by this testing equipment on this solar panel means it's capable of surviving even a category four tropical cyclone. One just like cyclone Tracy, which had recorded wind speeds reaching well over 200 kilometres an hour. It's tests like this, that help to reinforce the need for homeowners to build their homes strong, so they can survive the extremes of mother nature, making them battle hardened and ready for anything. In a way, it's very much like Territorians themselves, who continue the long tradition of taking the challenges this land brings to all that inhabit it. You see, they don't just adapt to it, instead they use it to their advantage, and ultimately they thrive because of it.