A Far North Queensland company has been awarded a tender to install a rooftop solar farm in the remote indigenous community at Lockhart River.
Minister for Housing and Public Works, Mick de Brenni, said Cairns renewable energy specialist Australian Sustainable Energy (ASE) has been awarded the contract to install the solar farm on government-owned buildings.
Mr de Brenni said the solar farm would provide a clean energy alternative for the community, more than 500km north of Cooktown, which is home to 700 people. The community is presently powered by diesel generators.
“Savings from the cheaper power costs of solar energy will be shared with public housing tenants in the community,” Mr de Brenni said.
“The solar farm will also be connected by ASE to battery storage which will help to integrate it with the diesel generators.”
Mr de Brenni said upon completion, the solar farm will supply around 10 per cent of the community’s electricity needs, and the project would test whether the rooftop solar farm model could help save on the government’s Community Service Obligation costs by replacing diesel power with solar generation.
Ergon Energy Retail Executive General Manager, Cheryl Hopkins, said many remote communities across the state relied on diesel as the energy source for their electricity.
“The transition to solar will bring a range of benefits for remote communities,” Ms Hopkins said.
“Communities currently don’t have the opportunity to access solar themselves, and as part of this trial, Ergon Energy Retail is also working with local businesses, further supporting regional Queensland.”
Mr de Brenni said the decision would have a positive impact on the economies of both Cairns and Lockhart River.
“Work on the project is scheduled to start in mid-October, and the solar farm will be operating before the end of the year,” Mr de Brenni said.
“It is great news for this community, and is also great news for businesses in the state’s far north.
“This project will bring economic activity to the community during the construction phase, help the town become more self-sufficient and less reliant on long-haul diesel deliveries, and provide ongoing environmental benefits.
“The Lockhart River trial will provide valuable insight into how we supply power to other remote communities, and is another example of the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to developing renewable energy across Queensland, creating jobs in our regional communities and reducing carbon emissions.
“Queensland is experiencing a renewable energy boom, and this project will not only bring more affordable electricity to Lockhart River, but cleaner electricity as well.
“We came to government with a promise that we would diversify the state’s energy mix, including through our million solar rooftops or 3000 megawatts of solar by 2020 commitment.
“It is important that all Queenslanders, in all corners of the state are able to benefit from renewable energy.”
The Queensland Government, Ergon Energy Retail and the Lockhart River Aboriginal Shire Council are partners in the project.