MR ENTSCH: I’m absolutely rapt to see the $19.3 million allocated in this year’s federal budget to stage 1 construction of the Daintree microgrid project.
This is a project that’s very close to my heart and one that I’ve been working on delivering for close to 25 years.
In fact, only last week I was reminiscing with Daintree resident Betty Hinton at Floravilla Icecream about when the journey first started.
Unfortunately, three other people who were involved in those initial discussions so many years ago, John and Lynda Nicholas from the Daintree tea plantation and Betty’s husband, Bill, have since passed.
Sadly, John, Lynda and Bill never got the opportunity to see the idea that we’d discussed for so many years become a reality, but I have absolutely no doubt that they and many others would be elated at what we as a community have managed to achieve.
The journey to this point has been a very long and frustrating one, but in the end we’ve got the outcome that we desired.
It was stopped for quite some years by state Labor government legislation prohibiting the extension of mains-equivalent power north of the river.
Fortunately, Campbell Newman, in the short time that he was there, rescinded that legislation.
In 2017, the member for Kooyong, Josh Frydenberg, when he Minister for the Environment and Energy, visited the Daintree and got the ball rolling on the Daintree power grid proposal.
A modest funding amount was announced during the 2019 election campaign for a scoping assessment on both costings and engineering of the project.
Several months later, following a coalition victory, a contract was signed between the government and Daintree Renewable Energy Pty Ltd to take the 100 per cent renewables project to the shovel-ready stage within 12 months.
Slowly but surely, the project has become a reality.
Many people live in the Daintree and the wider region.
Microgrid technology is becoming increasing cost-effective, creating the opportunity for reliable, low-cost, off-grid power in our regional communities.
The Daintree microgrid will store energy generated by new and existing solar panels by converting it to hydrogen, generating reliable power while feeding battery storage for base-load power.
It will move the World Heritage area from reliance on some six million litres of diesel fuel to a fully renewable base load, giving access to cleaner, reliable, affordable energy.
Also included will be a fibre-optic cable that improves communications.
The first one will be from Alexandra Range through to Cape Tribulation.
In closing, I’d like to take the opportunity to personally thank long-term Daintree residents Russell and Teresa O’Doherty.
They were the ones who established the Daintree Renewable Energy group.
They were the ones who copped a lot of flak over many, many years for their campaign on this, but their unwavering support, their passion for making it happen and their dedication towards this project have made it a reality.