Reliable power a spring board to enterprise success – a Kimberley case study

Bushlight, a renewable energy program run by CfAT Ltd from 2002 – 2013, installed a Bushlight solar system in the community of Chile Creek in the Kimberley in 2007. Since that installation residents have saved over $250,000 in diesel expenses.  The system was designed to support resident’s energy needs whilst also recognising the importance of providing power to their tourist operation including power to the tourist ablution block, tourist lighting, caravan poles and camp sites. Community residents have also saved the considerable time and effort that it would otherwise have taken to raise the funds to pay for and transport this diesel. Residents see this as a vital boost for an Indigenous business just starting out – and in many cases this could be the difference between the success and failure in the first few years. Importantly this money can be reinvested, into a community’s longstanding development aims, to further develop their tourism business, to pay for unexpected breakdowns or maintenance, to implement community health and safety initiatives or to further education aims.

Residents at the community of Chile Creek state their solar system was a major factor in both their initial and sustained success. In the words of Roma Puertollano 'We’ve got power, so we can have tourists. It’s a simple as that!' (see their website at Roma’s story is one of many on the Dampier Peninsula where CfAT Ltd’s Bushlight solar system provides a thrifty, dependable partner to a successful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander enterprise development. 

The communities shown above, where planning for tourism was integrated with CAT’s energy planning process, are recognised as local success stories, with ongoing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment, and thousands of visitors annually. The graph above shows for eight Kimberley communities how a solar system breaks the cycle of diesel dependence. Implementation of Bushlight renewable energy systems have saved in excess of $1.5m in diesel costs for these communities and shows how reliable and affordable access to 24 hour power can be leveraged to achieve significant health and safety, and training and employment outcomes for residents living and working on country.

A video about CfAT Ltd's Bushlight Project - 2002-2014