Project Everest

Work Update

Thinking Outside the Grid

Nic Makram
Nic Makram | Dec 11, 2017 | in Knowledge Base

Atauro Island, sitting about 25km north of Dili, and visible from our accommodation on a clear day, has been deemed by Conservation International to have the world’s most biodiverse waters. I have seen for myself the incredible coral reefs sitting no more than 20 metres from the shore, and have seen some of the vast range of species of fish that occupy these waters. With a population of only around 8000, Atauro Island is truly an untouched paradise, which made it all the more surprising when our team heard about the Government’s plan to connect Atauro Island to the grid.

We have heard that the Timorese Government is planning on spending $4 million to connect Atauro Island to the Timor-Leste grid. This involves constructing a 25km underwater cable from Dili to the island, which is quite possibly the most outlandish idea I have heard in awhile. The consistency of the energy supplied to Dili residents is bad enough to begin with, I can only imagine what this would be like with 25km of electrical resistance, along with numerous other factors. In addition to this, the residents of Atauro Island understand the benefits of renewable energy, and want the island to remain as eco-friendly as possible.

This lead our team to the idea: why not approach the Government with an alternative? Why not take that $4 million investment and use it to set up a solar farm on Atauro island? I imagine we could easily provide enough energy for a population of 8000 people, with no major energy users present in the area.

The biggest question is whether or not the Government will accept this offer from us. One of our biggest issues operating here in Dili is the presence of corruption within the Government, as well as the extensive bureaucratic processes that must be undertaken to get anything done. But imagine if we can get the Government on board to invest in us.

With a $4 million budget, we would potentially be able to get a big enough setup to produce excess energy. With a $4 million budget, we could get a profit large enough to cover the startup fees required to get the materials for our current ventures with medium-large businesses in Dili. With a $4 million budget, who knows what we could do.

If our team can get involved in a project like this, with substantial funding from the Government and a largely free space to operate in, it will be a huge step forward not just for the Energy Assessment team, but for the quality of energy production in Dili as well.

William Lee Dec 11, 2017

Absolutely loving the moonshot thinking! This would be incredible. Let's get a pitch deck and proposal together; I would love to help in any way possible.

More so, if you can leverage your relationship with Sundaya and explore a potential Joint Venture with them, this may help reassure the gov with respect to previous experience and success in this field.

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Nic Makram Dec 11, 2017

Cheers Will! We've got a meeting with the EDTL (who proposed the idea and has done a feasibility study for the project) on Wednesday morning where we can definitely have a chat about the concept and float our idea.

It's currently pretty difficult to get any sort of proposals together as we are still talking terms with Hugh Collett and Sundaya to see if they will actually partner with us, so as of yet we don't have any figures or costings for panels etc. We've got a meeting tomorrow with Hugh so hopefully we can get everything sorted out and then will be ready to write up a proposal tomorrow afternoon that we can take to the EDTL.

I'll chuck you a message tomorrow after the meeting to give you an update on where we are at, as any help with the pitch deck would be really handy!

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William Lee Dec 11, 2017

Have there been any solar projects of this kind elsewhere overseas? Would be awesome to try understand the cost structure involved in those projects and fill in the rates that are specific to Timor.

Do you have access to EDTL's feasibility study? I would love to learn more about this space, especially with the financial side of things.

Keen to hear from you guys tomorrow.

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Nic Makram Dec 11, 2017

Yeah we found a case where a similar sort of thing happened on a small island in the US, I'll try to find the article again for you and send it through tomorrow. I'm not sure if we found the actual feasibility study, but I'll check tomorrow morning and same thing, I'll send it through!

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Nic Makram Dec 11, 2017

here are three links in regards to a similar project that was done on an island in American Samoa. If you feel like having a read through go for it and let me know your thoughts, keeping in mind all the products are Tesla so are premium costs and the majority of the costs would have gone into the battery storage.

In regards to the feasibility study, we weren't able to access that one online but will try to get it from EDTL in the meeting tomorrow.

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Brodie Leeson Dec 11, 2017

Dude this is awesome and fantastic moonshot as Will said haha.

Yeah this sounds potentially pretty huge, I feel like it would well be worth the time to converse with Hugh Collet and Sundaya to work out prices and maybe get some cost estimates and generation potential estimations.

I suppose the government was thinking along the lines of the HVDC Bass link Australia has with Tasmania (if they had thought that far through it). Interestingly if a large solar array was set up on Atauro and there was excess the HVDC link could be set up to provide excess to the mainland.

I suppose the main barrier would be if there is adequate land and if the people of Atauro would allow it? From memory Atauro was considered sacred in a few aspects which could pose a barrier to such an idea.

Regardless, this is excellent!

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Nic Makram Dec 11, 2017

Yeah great call, we'll definitely try to mention this to Hugh in our meeting with him tomorrow, as the sooner we can get costings done the sooner we can see if this would be a viable move or not.

I'm not entirely sure what the perception of Atauro is, but we're going there this weekend so I'll try to ask around to gauge if the actual people living there would be interested in this sort of thing!

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Alexander Teicher Dec 13, 2017

Positive news today from our meeting with EDTL. We brought up the possibility of solar on Atauro Island and the Director of Renewable Energy said this was something they were already looking at and ideally would implement. Their current aim is to open the tender process in two years or so, most likely meaning it will happen in 5-10 years. This is further away than we thought however there may be the option for us to reach out to businesses over there now and gauge interest in our specific solar solutions. On the whole they seemed against the idea of connecting Atauro to the grid which is exactly what we wanted to hear.

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Wade Tink Jul 2, 2018

Status label added: Work Update

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