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Powering revegetation with renewables

One of Australia’s biggest revegetation programs has just got even greener.

Across the South West region right now, an ambitious revegetation program is underway.

The Gondwana Link program, supported by a number of individuals and groups including Greening Australia, aims to create 1,000kms of connected, well-managed bushland habitat, reaching from the south-west corner of WA though to the edge of the Nullarbor Plain.

What does this have to do with energy?

As well as helping restore WA’s landscape to its former biodiverse glory, Greening Australia’s Nowanup property within the Gondwana Link is now going to be powered mainly by renewable energy.  

Changing the paradigm

The 750-hectare property near Boxwood Hill, inland from Bremer Bay, is positioned between two nature reserves. This makes it a key link in providing connected habitat for wildlife across the landscape.

“With a reserve to the east and to the west, this property is an important part of the Gondwana Link pathway as it creates connectivity between those two reserves," says Barry Heydenrych, project manager at Greening Australia.

“Over the past decade we’ve restored around 350 hectares of farmland back to wildlife habitat, and we maintain another 400 hectares of existing bushland on this property.” 

With the support of Gondwana Link, its wider network and mentoring by Noongar leader Eugene Eades, local Indigenous communities also use the property to provide cultural learning and healing experiences. There is a also mix of educational and tourist visits to the property and it is used as a base by the Indigenous Nowanup Rangers when working on country.

 “There's a house, shed and a caravan, used by Eugene Eades and his support teams for the cultural work at Nowanup, which is by and large community-driven and operates on the smell of an oily rag,” says Barry, “so the power usage is currently not huge.”

Barry Heydenrych, project manager at Greening Australia

Improving the power

With the property at the end of a spur line, it has been subject to power outages.

“When Western Power approached us about installing a stand-alone power system (SPS), we thought that sounded like a really good idea,” says Barry.

“As well as giving us better power supply, it would reduce our bushfire risk as the poles and wires in the area won’t need to be used.

“Power failures have been frequent, and particularly given our line of work, bushfires are a constant concern. A big bushfire would damage all the good work we’ve been doing,” says Barry.

However, installing a new SPS on the property should make outages a thing of the past, with solar panels to create power for the system, a battery for energy storage and a traditional generator for back up.

“Another big appeal for us is that we will be creating our power mainly from the sun, which is something that resonated with everyone.”

Greening Australia, Gondwana Link, and the Noongar community are working with Curtin University on expanding the use of the property into a more formalised ‘Bush Campus’. The campus will allow for Noongar learning and teaching perspectives to be delivered in a bush setting and with Noongar leadership. This means more infrastructure will be required on the property in the near future, along with extra energy to support an increasing number of school visits and bush camps.

As that happens, Barry says the SPS technology can be expanded to handle the increased power needs.

“One of the things we asked was whether it could be upgraded, and because it is a modular technology, it can.

“The current unit will deal with our power requirements right now, and in the future if we need it, we can scale things up.”

Greening Australia are the first community group across our network to get an SPS. Pictured (L-R) are David Timmel, CEO of Greening Australia with Eugene Eades from Gondwana Link with Ed Kalajzic, CEO of Western Power, and Minister for Energy, the Hon Bill Johnston MLA.