Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon. Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Sun shines on innovative new solar project

Media release
24 October 2011

Work on one of the country's biggest business solar power projects has now begun at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's Reef HQ Aquarium in Townsville, north Queensland.

Minister for Sustainability, Tony Burke, said the new solar system to be installed on the ReefHQ Aquarium's roof would be the second largest system of its type in Queensland.

"This will be one of the largest and most innovative solar projects of this nature," Mr Burke said.

"Climate change is one of the greatest threats to our Great Barrier Reef, and we all have a role to play in helping protect this great natural wonder.

"It's fitting that Reef HQ Aquarium - as the national education centre for the Great Barrier Reef - is leading by example to reduce their carbon footprint and help improve the resilience of the Reef.

"This project is also unique because the solar power will be used for driving the critical life support systems in the world's largest living coral reef aquarium."

Mr Burke said Reef HQ Aquarium was an excellent candidate for a large solar power system with its large area of flat roof space and one of the best locations in Australia to harness solar power.

"The project will allow Reef HQ Aquarium to publicly showcase real time system monitoring and display renewable energy themes through educational displays," he said.

"More than 130,000 people visit Reef HQ Aquarium each year - this is a fantastic way to educate visitors about how alternative energies are viable and important for protecting our environment.

"This project also sends a strong and highly visible message to communities and industries that depend on the Great Barrier Reef that the Gillard Government is committed to sustainable business practices."

Under the project, a 153kw peak photovoltaic (solar) system will be installed on the 1511m2 roof of Reef HQ Aquarium.

The system will produce an average of 706 kWh/day, and an estimated total of 258 MWh/yr. This equates to 260 tonnes of carbon dioxide Reef HQ Aquarium will avoid putting into the atmosphere.

The output from the solar power system will be used to directly supply the power needs of Reef HQ Aquarium or can be fed back to the Ergon Energy electricity grid.

This project is funded by the Gillard Government, and is expected to be completed by May 2012.