North-west Queensland is ideally placed to take advantage of any move towards solar energy as a viable form of electricity generation, according to Mount Isa mayor Joyce McCulloch.
Cr McCulloch and deputy mayor Phil Barwick this week addressed the Australian Geoscience Council Convention in Adelaide and said it was time to take a good look at solar energy for northern Australia.
“North-west Queensland and Mount Isa have been identified as having one of the highest amounts of solar radiation per square metre, so it makes perfect sense for solar projects to be pursued,” they said.
“We certainly believe solar power is a viable alternative, and we would welcome and encourage the State Government facilitating the expansion of renewable energy sources in the north-west.
“If northern Queensland is to have a sustainable future power supply not reliant on continual upgrading of electricity transmission infrastructure, then our region must see investment in electricity generation.
“The best option for electricity generation in northern Queensland is from renewable sources.
“Not only would an investment in, and commitment to, renewable energy in the north-west contribute to the region’s economy, it is also likely to reinvigorate the potential for mining exploration and investment, and make the prospect of doing business in the region much more attractive.”
Councillors McCulloch (pictured) and Barwick said while mining had been the main economic driver in north-west Queensland for many years, it was time to look at diversifying into other areas.
“It is now time for Mount Isa to get behind new industries to secure its economic future,” they said.
“The council has a clear direction in the form of our economic development strategy, which details 30 ways Mount Isa can boost its economy.
“Over the next three years, we’ll be rolling up our sleeves and opening our doors to expand existing industries and create new opportunities, both real and yet to be imagined.
“To thrive we need to foster new industries around agriculture, education, services, transport, tourism and energy.”
Councillors McCulloch and Barwick said the high cost of providing energy and water was a barrier to investment in north-west Queensland.
“It should come as no surprise that the costs and handling of energy and water supply are the main issues holding back investment in this region,” they said.
“Glencore, which employs about 2000 personnel at its mining and smelting operations in Mount Isa, stated in mid-2017 that the high cost of energy could force it to shut down its operations.
“The cost to access water in Mount Isa is now at an all-time high.
“(So) there are several factors that must be addressed to ensure the long-term viability and success of many industries that have the potential to expand and thrive in northern Queensland.”