More solar on the way for Queensland’s remote communities

Solar farm panels with sun behind them (Photon Energy)

The indigenous community of Pormpuraaw will produce less carbon emissions and enjoy more energy savings thanks to a solar energy project funded by the Queensland Government.

Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said work was about to begin on the installation of solar in the Western Cape indigenous community as part of the Palaszczuk Government’s $3.6 million election commitment to decarbonising remote communities.

“Queensland, like the rest of the world, is facing tough economic times ahead due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr 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.”

The project will see 210 kilowatts of solar installed on eight buildings owned by the Pormpuraaw Aboriginal Shire Council and includes upgrades to the local power station, allowing the solar to work together with the diesel generators that power the local grid.

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Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said the project would allow some upskilling for local electricians to ensure they were the first onsite point of call if ever necessary.

“The whole of community will benefit greatly from the positive social, financial and environmental impacts that this project will deliver,” Ms 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.”

Work is expected to start in late-July 2020 and be finished by the end of September 2020.

The Pormpuraaw project follows on the heels of the 304 kilowatt solar farm extension and installation of 105 kilowatts of rooftop solar in the far Northwest Queensland town of Doomadgee.

Dr Lynham said construction of the solar farm generated 15 local jobs, which involved training locals on civil works such as driving bulldozers and safety management.

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“It was great to see local jobs generated out of this project and locals gaining valuable skills they can take to other job opportunities,” Dr Lynham said.

“And now Doomadgee has more solar than any other remote community in Queensland.

“More than 15 per cent of Doomadgee’s power is now provided by renewable energy, which will help meet the community’s energy needs for decades to come.”

Doomadgee Aboriginal Shire Council CEO Garry Jeffries said once the COVID19 restrictions allowed, a special community event would be held to commemorate the important milestone later this year.

“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,” Mr Jeffries said.

The Palaszczuk Government is investing $3.6 million support to four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to install renewable energy systems and reduce the use of diesel power.

As part of the initiative, communities in the Northern Peninsula Area and Mapoon will also have solar and some battery storage installed during the 2021 dry season.

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