September 26th 2006
Magnetic to become "Solar Suburb"
An Ergon Energy-led consortium has won the right to stage a seven year, $30 million major sustainable energy trial in Townsville with a significant component on Magnetic Island under the Federal Government's Solar Cities program.
Ergon Energy will negotiate a funding agreement for up to $15 million with the Australian Greenhouse Office, with the project due to start in early 2007.
Ergon Energy Chief Executive Tony Bellas said the project is unique and would deliver significant benefits to Townsville.
"We're thrilled to win this project after 18 months of collaboration, hard work and planning by a dedicated group of people across our consortium. The Solar Cities Community Day, just hours before Cyclone Larry hit, was a great demonstration of the community support this project had and definitely helped us win. Ergon Energy and its consortium members are hoping to create an iconic project for Townsville through the Solar Cities initiative, showcasing benefits to the environment, customers and local communities " he said.
The focus of Ergon Energy's proposal is on Magnetic Island as the Solar Suburb within the Solar City of Townsville.
"The project will support innovative technology in a practical and large scale application.
Energy-efficient products and solar photovoltaic (PV) systems will be installed on selected existing homes and businesses on Magnetic Island, a portion of new homes in Serene Valley and Riverway and a Townsville CBD commercial building. The trial will also feature other energy conservation techniques and an extensive customer education program," he said.
The project will incorporate 500 solar photovoltaic systems, 2500 smart meters, a comprehensive demand-side management program including 1700 energy audits and detailed monitoring for the trial period.
"Learning outcomes from the project will be extended across the whole of Queensland and beyond", he said.
The aim of the Federal Government's $75 million Solar Cities program is to provide a model of how solar energy and energy efficiency can deliver economic and environmental benefits in a specific trial area.
"We confidently predict the project will significantly lower the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the Townsville region's energy use and make it an even more attractive place to live and work."
It's estimated that over the period of the Solar Cities project, greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 50,000 tonnes - the same benefit as taking 1,700 cars off the road for the seven years.
Trial participants and all Townsville residents will also be supported with educational information and assistance on how to use energy more efficiently.
Ergon Energy will work closely with consortium members to implement the project, particularly Townsville City Council as most of the project is centred on the Townsville community.
Townsville City Council is already engaged in sustainable practices through waste water recycling at the city's sewerage treatment plants, Greening Townsville projects, biofuel trials, eco-efficiency, sustainable housing and the wind turbine project on The Strand.
The Townsville Solar City project complements other joint initiatives by Ergon Energy and Townsville City Council in the areas of energy and water.
Ergon Energy is one of Australia's largest purchasers of renewable energy, from sugar mills, wind farms and hydro-electric plants across regional Queensland and beyond.
SOLAR CITIES FACTS:
Project time frame
2007 - 2013 (approximately)
Federal Government contribution
$15M (to be negotiated)
Approximately $15M (including $5M from the Queensland Government through the Department of Energy
Magnetic Island (planned Solar Suburb), Serene Valley, Riverway and a Townsville CBD commercial building. The whole project is supported and enhanced by the Townsville City Council's Citisolar: Community Capacity Building Programme.
500 solar PV systems
2500 smart meters, comprehensive demand-side management program
1700 energy audits
detailed monitoring for the trial.
Magnetic Island as the Solar Suburb will be the focus of the trial. The island is supplied with power by two submarine cables from Townsville.
The Solar Suburb is an ideal trial location, unique because of its clear physical demographic and electricity network boundaries. This supports a robust measurement and monitoring programme.
Ergon Energy will be able to measure the impact of the trial on the island's energy consumption through the installation of:
up to one megawatt of solar energy across 500 selected residential and business premises, at no cost to the owner;
1700 smart meters to monitor energy data;
and in-house energy displays in 1600 premises to give householders and business owners more information about the use and cost of their electricity.
When fully implemented:
estimated reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (associated with electricity generation and supply ) by about 50,000 tonnes - the same benefit as taking 1,700 cars off the road for the seven years.
national and possibly international recognition of the initiative and the city involved.
more environmentally friendly power for customers involved in the program at no additional cost.
potential for customers involved in the energy efficiency element to improve their comfort levels reduce their power consumption and therefore their bills and their environmental impact.
active support for Townsville City Council's Citisolar Program, therefore making the region a more attractive place to live, work and visit.
increased awareness across Queensland and Australia of renewable energy options.
jobs growth for regional Queensland
an opportunity for Ergon Energy to develop business models that may ultimately support solar generation on a much larger scale.
Ergon Energy is the lead proponent and has responsibility for the delivery of the project.
The other partners are:
Queensland Government: Department of Energy as lead agency for Queensland Government
Townsville City Council
Delfin Lendlease (proposed Serene Valley residential housing project)
HIG Riverway (Riverway housing project in Thuringowa)
The consortium consists of entities that have strong existing relationships, are well credentialed, have proven capability and full supply chain expertise.
Key supporters are:
Ampy Metering (Smart Meter Supplier)
Kyocera Australia (Solar PV supplier)
Thuringowa City Council
Townsville Port Authority
Townsville Enterprise Limited
James Cook University
Centre for Excellence in Tropical Design (Sustainability and Innovation)
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
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