Rottnest Island Authority project manager Rob Weir at the new solar farm, which can produce about 600kw of energy. Picture:Picture: Simon Santi

A new solar farm on Rottnest has dramatically reduced the island’s dependency on diesel fuel, saving about $600 a day.

The $7.3 million farm, which can produce about 600KW of solar energy, was built by the Rottnest Island Authority and Hydro Tasmania, Australia’s biggest producer of renewable energy.

It means renewable energy now accounts for about 45 per cent of Rottnest’s energy production, with the solar farm working in conjunction with the island’s existing wind turbine.

Until the solar farm was built, Rottnest’s annual power consumption of 5GWh was provided by five conventional diesel generators, two low-load diesel generators and the wind turbine.

The solar farm has seen a reduction in the amount of diesel used on the island, from 83,233 litres in February to 45,098 litres in August.

This represents an estimated annual saving of $225,000.

“Rottnest Island is an isolated community and is totally reliant upon its own resources for the supply of energy and water for visitors,” Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said. “Careful management of its resources is critical to the sustainability of the island as a self-funding tourism destination.”

Upgrades to existing power infrastructure, the wind turbine and the desalination plant has also helped to reduce diesel usage. An advanced control system means desalinated water is used as a form of energy storage.

Mr Papalia said the island’s renewable power generation could now be viewed in real time on a mobile phone app.

“You can use the app to explore the island, visit the solar farm and wind turbine and discover ways to reduce your ecological footprint,” he said.

“The idea is that visitors can learn more about sustainability and how they can travel responsibly to natural areas in a way that conserves the environment.”