Remote Queensland communities set to cut costs with solar power

Two remote Queensland townships are set to slash their consumption of expensive diesel fuels, through the installation of solar power across community owned buildings.

The Queensland government announced on Thursday that works were set to commence on the installation of rooftop solar in the Western Cape indigenous community.

The project includes a combined 210 kilowatts of solar installed across eight community owned buildings.

The buildings are owned by the Pormpuraaw Aboriginal Shire Council, which covers a region on the western Cape York Peninsula. The project includes an upgrade to a power station facility, allowing the solar to supplement the community’s supply of diesel generation.

“The whole of community will benefit greatly from the positive social, financial and environmental impacts that this project will deliver,” local state MP Cynthia Lui said.

“The solar will save the Pormpuraaw Council around $40,000 per year on their power bills over the next 20 years, and this money will stay in the community.”

Local electricians will be offered the opportunity to expand their skills to help manage the solar power installations, ensuring the local community was able to manage and repair the rooftop solar systems, as needed.

The installations are expected to be completed by the end of September and follow the expansion of solar power facilities installed at the far Northwest Queensland town of Doomadgee.

Doomadgee is now host to a 304kW solar farm and an additional 105kW of rooftop solar installed across community buildings, meaning Doomadgee now has more solar installed than any other remote Queensland community.

Following the expansion of the town’s solar installations, Doomadgee Aboriginal Shire Council CEO Garry Jeffries said that the community would hold a special event to celebrate the milestone, once Covid-19 restrictions were lifted.

“It was a great opportunity for Council to be part of this project with installation of this high-tech energy solution right here in Doomadgee,” Jeffries said.

The solar installations have been funded as part of a $3.6 million commitment from the Queensland state government to support the increased use of solar power in remote communities.

As part of the program, remote communities in the Northern Peninsula Area and Mapoon region are expected to see solar and battery storage installed in mid-2021.

Queensland energy minister Anthony Lynham said that the installation of solar in local communities would help to cut energy costs at a critical time when many have been struggling in a disrupted economy.

“Queensland, like the rest of the world, is facing tough economic times ahead due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lynham said. “We’re continuing to manage our health response and that means Queensland’s plan for economic recovery is already rolling out.”

“Switching to renewables, such as solar, benefits local communities by creating jobs and power savings, as well as bringing the environmental benefits of reduced emissions.”

A similar initiative has been launched by the Western Australian government, which will see up to 4MW of solar power installed across six remote communities, as part of an $11.6 million state government initiative.

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