An off-grid micro-hydro power system will be installed at a major tourist spot on Mount Stirling in Victoria, as part of a state government-funded project to develop Australia’s first 100 per cent renewable powered Alpine Hub.
The state Labor government said on Monday it had granted $210,000 in funding for construction of the micro-hydroelectricity system, which would replace a “large, noisy and smelly” diesel generator which was “at odds” with the natural environment.
The department of tourism said in-depth research had been undertaken to identify the best and most cost-effective form of renewable energy generation for the site. A state government spokesperson told One Step Off The Grid that local Benalla-based renewable energy business Sun Real had won the tender to build the system, for a cost of between $60,000-$80,000.
The chosen micro-hydro system will provide power to the visitor hub at Telephone Box Junction – a major tourist entry point to Victoria’s high country – allowing for the provision of food and services, while preserving the natural environment, the department said in a statement.
The project will also provide community shelters and information boards at Howqua Gap and the Machinery Shed, the installation of public toilets at the Machinery Shed, and the creation of an all-weather access track from King Saddle to Machinery Shed.
According to the release, the project will allow local businesses to capitalise on emerging tourism markets and increase visitor activity, while also creating 14 jobs during construction, with another 27 jobs expected to be created in the first 2-5 years of the micro-hydro plant’s operation.
The investment is being made through the Andrews government’s $500 million Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund, aimed at generating jobs, boosting visitation and driving economic growth in regional Victoria.
An annual report released early this year said that visitor numbers at Mount Stirling had finished marginally lower in 2015 compared to the previous peak season, with 6,096 visitors across the 2015 winter compared to 7,338 in 2014.
The area attracts horse riders, mountain bikers, dirt bikers, hikers and sightseers outside of the snow season and is fast becoming home to the latest cutting-edge snow sports, such as splitboarding and fat biking.
“Mt Stirling is a vital attraction within Victoria’s internationally popular High Country region. We will work with the local community to strengthen the local economy thorough sustainable tourism initiatives,” said the parliamentary secretary for regional Victoria, Danielle Green.
“This project is about jobs and ensuring that we can continue offering the very best services to tourists visiting our best regional attractions each and every year,” she said.