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Construction has commenced on a $6 million research and development hub in Cairns, set to help shape the future of energy in Queensland. 

Member for Cairns, Michael Healy, said the world-class facility, ­to be built at Ergon’s existing Spence Street site, puts Cairns at the forefront of energy innovation in Queensland.

“This is the first large-scale facility of its kind in Queensland and will feature some of the most cutting-edge technology in the energy sector,” Mr Healy said.

“This will pave the way for new electricity solutions that can be used across Queensland.

“It will also support many new jobs for the region, which will have a flow-on effect for local businesses, schools and the economy.”

Energy Minister, Dr Anthony Lynham, said the facility will enable rigorous testing of new technologies to ensure they can be seamlessly integrated into the electricity network or used as an off-grid alternative.

“The brains of the new facility is a super computer, or real-time digital simulator, which can simulate and model equipment and capture data in very high detail,” Dr Lynham said.

“A wide range of energy solutions will be able to be tested before they are deployed, enabling renewable energy and energy storage to form a greater part of microgrids and isolated systems for remote communities.  

“We want to tap into technology that helps deliver affordable, reliable, sustainable and safe energy solutions to communities across Queensland, but we have to ensure it is the right fit first.”  

The microgrid and isolated systems test facility will incorporate and build on the success of Energy Queensland’s Innovation Lab, where testing of solar PV systems and battery storage has already assisted the development of national safety standards and an intelligent grid. 

Energy Queensland’s Principal Engineer Technology Innovation, Alan Louis, said the facility will help new technologies connect to the National Electricity Market grid.

“This helps us enable new technologies to connect to the grid so that more Queenslanders can harness the power of solar without impacting the security of the network or quality of supply,” Mr Louis said.

Energy Queensland employees from across the state will work with the Cairns-based facility to investigate more efficient options to supply remote communities and customers on the fringes of the grid, where it makes sense for economic and environmental reasons.

“By enabling the integration of high levels of centralised and distributed renewables and energy storage, we can reduce costly diesel consumption in isolated communities,” Mr Louis said.

“With a facility of this calibre, we can prepare customers, communities and our workforce for the future, support regional development and build on our relationships with local academic institutions, like James Cook University and Central Queensland University.”

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

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