One of Queensland’s most popular tourism destinations will soon run off almost entirely renewable energy, and create 14 jobs as part of the state’s economic recovery plan from COVID-19.
Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon today joined Member for Bundaberg Tom Smith to announce the Palaszczuk Government would invest $750,000 to install 446 new solar panels and battery storage to power the Mon Repos turtle centre and conservation park.
It comes after the state government announced last month that it had purchased an additional 42 hectares of land to double the size of the conservation area and the $22 million redevelopment of the centre in 2019.
“The Palaszczuk Government is investing close to $1 billion investment this year to protect our environment, promote tourism and create jobs at a time when we need them most,” Minister Scanlon said.
“The solar system will be installed next month, producing 170kW of solar power with 400kWh of battery storage to cover 97 per cent of the centre’s electricity consumption.
“More than 30,000 people visit the Mon Repos Turtle Centre each year – promoting the importance of protecting our turtles and injecting valuable dollars into the local economy – and very soon the electricity used to power the interactive displays, research and turtle encounters will be driven by solar energy.”
Mr Smith said investing in infrastructure was crucial to creating local jobs in fields such as construction and renewable energy, and to supporting the region’s $139 million tourism industry.
“The redevelopment of the Mon Repos Turtle Centre in 2019 saw more than 100 local tradies involved and this project will see another 14 jobs on the cards,” Mr Smith said.
“Better infrastructure and facilities such as the Mon Repos Turtle Centre has flow on effects for our local economy. It’s why we’re investing $42.5 million to upgrade the Isis Highway, putting our money on the table for the Bundaberg East Levee and supporting a renewable energy Mon Repos.
Mr Smith said it was no surprise Mon Repos is so popular, with state-of-the-art touch screen televisions, vivid displays, an immersive theatre room and interpretive signage.
“The 1.5km section of Mon Repos beach is such an important nursery for loggerhead and green turtles, and during nesting season it’s one of the most popular beaches in Australia.
“Up to 20 turtles a night will come ashore to nest during the peak of the season, and hundreds of tiny hatchlings will emerge from their nests and scurry to the ocean for the very first time.
“The Mon Repos Turtle Centre is a facility all Queenslanders can be proud of, and I’m thrilled that the solar panels will create jobs, save our community money and reduce our environmental impact.”
Minister Scanlon said the project would add to $1.5 million in upgrades of remote area power systems across several national parks throughout Queensland, which provides rangers with efficient, reliable solar systems.
“These systems have already saved 45 tonnes of carbon emissions, and supported upwards of 50 jobs during construction right throughout the state,” Minister Scanlon said.
“Over their lifetime these types of technologies will reduce operating costs by $10 million and ultimately prevent 12,000 tonnes of carbon from entering the atmosphere.”