Daintree Power Group want Council support for hydrogen grid


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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Warren Entsch and Angus Taylor with Daintree local Betty Hinton when he visited the region in May this year. Image: Supplied.

Daintree Renewable Energy Inc. (DRE) has made a fresh call to Douglas Shire Council to publicly support the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Micro-grid proposal which is backed and funded by the Federal Government.

In his plea, DRE president, Russell O’Doherty, said today it is time for some real action by Council on the Daintree energy project.

But Mr O’Doherty, and his committee, are still haunted by the indifferent response they received from Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu following their deputation to Council earlier this year.

“Mayor Leu’s remarks are of particular concern to us. When we asked Council for a letter of support, the mayor’s parting words were: ‘Let’s see what the outcome of the election (May Federal election) is before we make a decision.’

“The inference we drew from that; was the mayor was confident Labor would win and Council would be let off the hook,” said Mr O’Doherty.

In April this year, it was reported that the Daintree region could be the site of an Australian-first solar power to hydrogen gas-based micro-grid, with newly announced Federal Government funding tipped to help make the 100 per cent renewable project shovel ready.

At the time, the Morrison government unveiled plans to underwrite the establishment of up to 50 “affordable and reliable” renewable micro-grids around the country, via a new $50.4 million purpose-built fund.

The Federal Energy Minister, Angus Taylor, singled out the Daintree project as one which the government hoped would be helped to investment stage by the new fund, and that the assistance would help foster new forms of micro-grid “ownership.”

In the interim, DRE Inc. has received letters of support from the CEO of TTNQ Pip Close, TPDD’s Executive Officer Tara Bennett and from local tourism association, Daintree Marketing Co-op.

“I have today gone back to Council and asked them to come out and publicly support the Daintree energy project with a letter of support.

“Only when the Daintree stops producing thousands of tons of CO2 every year, will the Council be able to claim the shire is an eco-tourism destination,” said Mr O’Doherty.

It has been stated that the micro-grid will enable all residences and businesses to share excess renewable energy and have a central back-up power supply powered by hydrogen gas created by a solar farm.

This would be a vast improvement from wasteful standalone power, which in a rainforest with shading trees and high rainfall, means diesel generators operating most of the time.

It is well known that north of the Daintree River, hundreds of generators are operating 24- hours-a-day, which has surprised many tourists who thought it was an eco-tourism destination.

An observer in the Daintree said, “it is laughable to see the Mayor talking about ‘carbon neutral region’ and an ‘eco-certified shire’ while half the shire runs on polluting diesel generators.

“She is not supporting the Daintree Micro Grid proposal that could finally make the Daintree a genuine eco-tourism destination by swapping standalone diesel power for renewable energy micro grid.”

Newsport approached Council for comment and whether Mayor Leu stood by her comments, but did not receive a response.

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