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Great Barrier Reef adopts solar power

27th Oct 2011

Construction has begun on one of Australia's largest business solar power projects.

Queensland's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's Reef HQ Aquarium has begun work on installing a 153kW rooftop solar power system, which is expected to be amongst the largest of its kind in the state.

Minister for sustainability Tony Burke noted that climate change was one of the greatest threats to the reef's unique ecosystem.

"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," Mr Bourke said.

"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 system will cover 1511 square metres of roof space of the aquarium, and construction of is due to be completed by May 2012.

The project also presents the opportunity to educating visitors to the tourist attraction on renewable energy.

"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", says Mr Burke.

The project comes as the Gillard government continues to focus on the move towards clean energy.

The aquarium's solar power system will generate an average of 706 kilowatt hours of clean electricity a day - or 258 megawatt hours annually - and will avoid 260 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

Any surplus electricity generated will be fed back into the mains electricity grid.

3.5 per cent of Queensland households currently access solar electricity, according to a new survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Many of these households also feed unused energy back into the grid.

In recent years, Queensland has maintained its solar incentives and currently offers the most generous feed in tariff in the country.

Rooftop solar panel systems - like the one being used at the Great Barrier Reef site - are an accessible and affordable option of many households.

Posted by Mike Peacock - Solar Correspondent 

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