Solar Project For Bedourie And Birdsville Progresses

Solar power in Birdsville and Bedourie

Queensland’s Diamantina Shire Council is getting ready to spend its Building Our Regions cash on dozens of solar power systems.

The Shire of Diamantina is a local government area (LGA) in Central West Queensland, bordering South Australia and the Northern Territory. Covering an area of 94,731 square kilometres, it is the second largest LGA in Queensland. Residents of the Shire certainly have plenty of room to move and there are very few of them – just 292 according to the last Census.

Its “major” population centres are Birdsville (pop: ~140) and Bedourie (pop: ~122). So, the two towns comprise around 90% of the LGA’s total population.

While the Shire of Diamantina may be tiny in terms of population, its reputation is as huge as its area. The Shire is home to the famous Birdsville Races, Bedourie Races and Betoota Races; and the world’s most remote music festival, the Birdsville Big Red Bash.

Betoota was also an inspiration for the name of the very popular Australian satire news site The Betoota Advocate.

A Tough Year In Diamantina

During the Birdsville Races, which were unfortunately cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 situation, the population swells to around 7,000 people. The Big Red Bash, which draws around 9,000, was also cancelled for this year. The Bedourie and Betoota races have met the same fate. As you can imagine, this has had a huge impact on the local economy.

Adding to the community’s woes, the Simpson Desert Oasis Roadhouse in Bedourie, which has a solar rooftop, was gutted by fire yesterday. The cause of the fire is not yet known.

So, it hasn’t been a great year for the community and Council. But a bright spot was Council scoring close to $1 million in May from the QLD Government’s Building Our Regions program for a solar power project.

The program supports local government infrastructure projects in regional communities that create flow-on economic development opportunities and jobs. The first five rounds of the program have allocated funding towards 271 projects across the state, supporting an estimated 2,767 jobs.

The Diamantina Shire project involves installing solar panels on all Council-owned houses and community buildings in Bedourie and Birdsville – around 83 properties in total. Bedourie already boasts a pretty high level of solar PV saturation as a result of community uptake, while Birdsville lags well behind.

Council says the solar energy project will reduce costs to council and individual households; allowing greater investment in tourism and economic stability.

Late last week, Council posted a Tender notice for the project for the design and installation of the systems, capacities of which weren’t noted in the ad. Tenders close 2:00pm, Friday 9th October 2020 and documents are available here.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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