Albanese Government launches wind power trial to keep Australians connected during disasters

The Albanese Government has welcomed a trial by NBN Co that is using wind power to support the operation of temporary network infrastructure which keeps the broadband services operational during natural disasters.

During an emergency event, damage to localised power outages can impact NBN services and leave people without vital access to communications.

When this occurs, NBN Co-deploys temporary network infrastructure to support the network and keep it operating. This infrastructure is supported by a Hybrid Power Cube, which currently uses a combination of solar, compact diesel generator technologies and sodium nickel batteries to power the infrastructure for a number of days.

This trial is assessing if innovative Australian small wind technology can extend this battery life even further, in an environmentally sustainable way. This will be vital to keeping communities and emergencies services connected during an emergency or natural disaster, especially during when there is protracted power outages.

The project has been made possible through a collaborative partnership with Decon Technologies and is taking place at a solar powered fixed wireless site in Lovely Banks, Geelong. The wind turbines are designed in Newcastle and assembled in Port Stephens in NSW by Diffuse Energy.

The trial was planned for an initial period of three months but will continue for as long as possible to maximise insights gained from the use of wind power during different seasons.

This program builds on a range of government initiatives that has seen the deployment of Hybrid Power Cubes to help maintain integrity of the NBN during interruptions to the power supply, as well as portable satellite units and other network elements.

The Government hopes to continue to enable NBN Co’s integration of renewable energy solutions into its permanent and temporary infrastructure, which plays an essential role in its ability to maintain services and support communities during prolonged outages.

Projects such as these showcase NBN Co’s commitment to becoming a more sustainable company to meet or exceed the Government’s 2050 net-zero commitment announced last year.

Quotes attributable to the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and Member for Corio, the Hon Richard Marles MP:

“A trial of renewable technologies taking place here in Geelong is another example of how our great city wants to harness and be at the forefront of this exciting technology.

“We are talking about technology which could potentially save lives by keeping people connected during natural disasters.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP:

“This innovative trial is important for testing how renewable technologies can help keep Australians better connected during natural disasters – and help Australia address the impact of climate change on our nation and in our regions – at the same time.

“While no communications network can ever be 100 per cent resilient, we want to ensure that we’re at the forefront of new ideas and technologies so when disasters strike, we’re prepared.

“The outcomes of this trial, which uses portable assets, could make a real difference by strengthening connectivity in vulnerable areas.

“I welcome NBN Co’s commitment to keeping Australians connected and doing its bit to reduce emissions.”