Powering the Daintree via a renewable-energy microgrid is one step closer after the federal government identified the region as a site for a stand-alone, environmentally friendly power system.
A $50.4 million Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund, to be announced in next week’s federal budget, has been set up to identify and fund feasibility studies for microgrids across the nation.
The fund will unlock private sector and community investment in new generation and storage, taking proposals like the Daintree renewable-energy project to investment stage.
Other potential microgrid sites identified in Far North Queensland include Wujal Wujal and 15 Torres Strait Island communities.
Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said he had been working with the Daintree community for several years towards finding an environmentally-friendly solution to the region’s power needs.
He said only this week he had met with the Daintree and Wujal Wujal communities to discuss the proposals.
“I gave the Daintree community a firm commitment I would help them find a solution to their power needs,” Mr Entsch said.
“This is absolutely fantastic news for the environmentally-conscious Daintree community and I have no doubt this project will get the green-light.
“Far North Queenslanders, especially those living in the Daintree, are extremely passionate about their natural environment and this announcement is a big win for all of us.
“Australians would be horrified to learn that more than 10 million litres of diesel is burnt annually in the World-Heritage listed Daintree to power generators.
“This is totally unacceptable. It is encouraging to see the federal government identify and support projects like the Daintree renewable-energy microgrid.”
Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the fund would support up to 50 communities across the country that are either off the main power grid or on the fringe.
“The money will go towards investigating whether new microgrids are cost-effective or current off-grid equipment can be upgraded with modern technology,” Mr Taylor said.
“If projects are found to be viable, communities could either upgrade existing diesel generation or use other technologies such as renewables.
“We are empowering regional and remote communities to take charge of their energy future.
“The Morrison Government is taking action to drive down prices by increasing competition and supply in the market.
“Unlike Labor, who have abandoned regional Australia, we understand the importance of investing in our regional and remote communities to ensure future energy supply and guarantee this essential service.”