Daintree micro grid project ahead of schedule


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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There has been a positive response to news that work is well underway and ‘slightly’ ahead of schedule to delivering more affordable and reliable power for the Daintree community.

Last year, the Australian Government invested $990,150 towards a feasibility study to allow Daintree Renewable Energy to take a fully-renewable micro grid project to ‘shovel-ready’ status within 12 months.

Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said the first community update report showed the project was on track.

“Work commenced in early December last year and will be finalised in July this year,” said Mr Entsch said.

Russell O’Doherty, president of Daintree Renewable Energy, and the driver of more affordable and reliable power in the Daintree, is buoyed by current developments.

“It is exciting to reach our first milestone ahead of schedule. Since November, Volt Advisory Group and Arcadis have worked tirelessly on some extremely technical issues and have achieved that milestone.

“We are now working on the next stage and are confident of completing the entire project by 31 July.

“For this project to be the first in the world; is extremely exciting. This will give a huge tourism marketing boost to the shire and in particular the Daintree Rainforest Community,” said O’Doherty. 

Volt Advisory Group project manager Richard Schoenemann said the proposed micro grid would reduce the World Heritage Area’s reliance on four million litres of diesel fuel per year to generate power.

“This project is the first of its kind in the world – a fully renewable baseload-power micro grid,” said Schoenemann.

“It will remove the need to burn dirty and inefficient diesel in the Daintree, allowing customers to have access to a cleaner, more affordable, more reliable source of energy.

“But more importantly, once the concept is demonstrated and up-and-running, it will have enormous potential to improve the power supply and lives of people living in remote communities including throughout the Torres Strait,” he said.

The study will deliver a fully costed design for a solar micro grid where excess solar generation will be stored as hydrogen and used to generate electricity when solar resources are not available.

The design is also focusing on avoiding any impact on the natural environment with all necessary cabling and power lines to go under existing easements and infrastructure.

 “The final report will include a complete series of engineering and technical design packages including a detailed energy load profile study, micro grid management design, solar generation and storage analysis and design, electrical and civil work designs and micro grid economic analysis,” said Mr Entsch.

Mr Entsch said the micro grid project would not be used as a catalyst for further development in the region despite the rumour and innuendo being peddled by a few.

“The Daintree is a World Heritage Protected Rainforest and is protected by a number of instruments, including a strict planning regime which limits the potential for future development.

“This project is in no way seeking to change any of that. The micro grid is being designed to align with the strict planning regime and accommodate energy requirements for existing population and businesses,” he said.

Costing of the system is being undertaken as part of the system design. At this stage, it is being proposed that customers choosing to connect should receive similar prices for their power that other customers in grid connected Queensland enjoy.

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