Power in the Daintree must be well considered says Mayor


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu has made her position clear regarding power north of the river stressing that the environment, over development and its world heritage status, must be taken into account in any proposal.

“Any proposal must take into account the environmental characteristics of the area; the potential for over development; and the fact that the Daintree is an area largely of world heritage significance.

“The Daintree Coast is an international tourism icon and a vital component of our local and regional economy, so only a truly renewable option with positive environmental impacts should be considered,” she said.

Leu’s position is that the opportunity to conduct a feasibility study into a stand-alone renewable micro grid is welcomed, but should include additional options, not just the option proposed by the Sunverge Report.

The following five options for complete power supply (i.e. network plus generation or stand-alone generation) to the Daintree community were identified in the Sunverge Report (A study of supply options for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency):

  • Single Daintree electrical micro grid with synchronous machines and a staged pathway for high renewable uptake
  • Multiple Daintree electrical micro grids (three segments)
  • Daintree gas micro grid with high renewable uptake using power to gas and bio-methane
  • Micro grid supply to Cape Tribulation (leverage of existing generation to extend in small LV networks)
  • Upgrade of individual Remote Area Power Supply options.

Through discussions with key stakeholders, four main criteria for a successful power supply were agreed upon:

  • Equity
  • Reliability
  • Environment and sustainability (including renewable potential)
  • Economic

Before the election announcement, the Federal Government identified the region as a site for a stand-alone, environmentally-friendly power system, bringing it a step closer to powering the Daintree via a renewable-energy micro grid.

A $50.4 million Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund was set up to identify and fund feasibility studies for micro grids across the nation.

Mayor Leu said access to the proposed funding could provide a professional assessment of several renewable energy options that are best suited to the sensitive environmental characteristics of the Daintree area.

“The study should critically analyse all options, include consultation with all potential users, a thorough analysis of costs and cover governance issues. 

“Rapid improvements in solar panel technology and battery storage provide relevant opportunities. Subsidies for those satisfied with their existing stand-alone renewable systems should also be considered.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Leu was unable to comment on the two deputations, who met with Council this week: the Daintree Coast Environment Network (DCEN) and the Daintree Renewable Energy Inc.
“As with all deputations, they are confidential and hence are not discussed publicly.

“They do provide an excellent opportunity for people to present information to Councillors who then have the opportunity to ask any questions.

“But there are no commitments made by Councillors in these sessions given they do not form part of a formal Council meeting,” said a Council spokesperson.

The spokesperson added that since the meetings in Cape Tribulation and Cow Bay (to discuss the Corporate Plan), Councillors have not an opportunity to specifically discuss the issue together of power north of the river.

Sunverge Report: Powering Daintree: A study of supply options for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)

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