A solar-to-hydrogen microgrid will be built in the Daintree region after years of campaigning to improve on the remote community’s archaic energy supply.

Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch is signing a $18.75 million deal with Queensland company Volt Advisory Group today, which will see the project built over the next three years.

Residents and businesses in the world’s oldest rainforest have long relied on diesel generators for their energy needs.

The idea was first raised by Mr Entsch in mid 2018, and a $1-million feasibility study was undertaken in the following year.

Original project estimates suggested construction would start in November 2020, however Tropic Now understands the pandemic halted progress.

The project will see the construction of an 8 MW solar farm, 20 MWh of battery storage and a 1 MW clean hydrogen plant – enough to power about 700 homes and businesses.

The project’s construction, due to start this year, will also support more than 200 jobs.

Mr Entsch said the microgrid won’t impact the environment as it will be built on already cleared land in Cow Bay.

The grid’s cable network will also be placed along existing roads.

“This project is a game-changer for the Daintree community and delivers on my firm commitment to residents to deliver a solution to their power needs,” Mr Entsch said.

“This project, which also includes the laying of new fibre-optic cables, will significantly improve communications in the region and will be welcome news for residents and business owners.

“But more importantly, from an environmental aspect, it will remove the need to burn dirty and inefficient diesel in the Daintree, allowing residents to have access to a cleaner, more affordable, more reliable source of energy.”

It’s anticipated the new microgrid will prevent four million litres of diesel being burnt in the Daintree

Mayor Michael Kerr. Image: Douglas Shire Council

Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr is also supportive of the project, telling Tropic Now there’s been several community meetings on the microgrid.

“The Daintree microgrid project will be a positive for the environment as energy users move away from older polluting technologies,” he said.

“Businesses will also become more competitive through the access to reliable energy at an affordable price, and the project is expected to significantly improve communications in the region.

“I am particularly pleased to welcome our federal politicians to our beautiful Daintree Coast region to update the community on the project today.”

MP Warren Entsch with Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor. Image: MP Warren Entsch

Assistant Minister to the Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Tim Wilson said the microgrid would set an example for a carbon-neutral future.

“This renewable microgrid will deliver cheaper, reliable power and is an essential investment in the Daintree community,” Mr Wilson said.

“This highly innovative project demonstrates the public-private leadership required to get Australia to carbon neutrality by 2050.

“It also presents a significant opportunity to develop key learnings that can be applied as we pursue further microgrid options across Australia.”

The microgrid is due to begin operations by 2024.

Extracted in full from: Construction on Daintree microgrid to start this year, replacing diesel generators with renewables (tropicnow.com.au)