Townsville is the sunniest city on Queensland’s coast. It’s impressive solar and wind resources, and port-side location, make it the ideal region to invest in new clean energy projects and industries.
Already, homes and businesses all over—from shopping centres, local businesses, and even large industrial energy users—are turning to renewables backed by storage to safeguard themselves against rising power prices and keep their operations competitive.
Below are five examples of how Townsville is breaking ground on renewable technology to lower power prices and diversify Queensland's economy.
1. Australia's biggest solar car park
Townsville's Willow Shopping Centre is home to Australia's biggest solar car park – with enough panels to cover 500 car spaces. The 1.5MW array, made up of 4,800 solar panels, will slash the centre's power bills by 30-40%.
More shaded car spaces and a cheaper energy bill? That's a win-win!
2. Sun Metals – using cheap energy to power Townsville’s zinc refinery
A $200 million solar farm at the site of Sun Metals’ Townsville zinc refinery is providing cheap electricity to the facility, helping to keep their operations competitive. The refinery already employs over 350 staff members, mostly from the local community, and an extra 100 ongoing jobs are being created as the plant expands.
The $300 million expansion will see zinc production increase from approximately 225,000 tonnes per year to 270,000, and investing in affordable renewable energy is a key piece of the puzzle that has made the expansion possible.
“For Sun Metals, wind and solar generation offer the most competitive power prices,” said Sun Metals’ former CEO, Yun Choi.
3. Imperium3 – bringing advanced battery manufacturing to Townsville
Plans for a $3 billion battery manufacturing plant in Townsville are moving ahead as Australia and the rest of the world make the switch to renewable energy backed by storage.
Construction will likely begin in the second half of 2020 and the 18GWh lithium-ion battery factory is expected to create 1,150 direct jobs when in full operation. The manufacturing plant is being proposed by a consortium of Australian and American companies, who recently submitted a feasibility study to the Queensland Government.
Clean energy manufacturing can help future-proof jobs in Queensland’s regions, and provide a well-paid alternative for workers transitioning out of traditional industries. The Imperium3 consortium is also consulting with James Cook University about education and training for the plant – helping to provide more opportunities for young people living in Townsville.
4. 18 large-scale projects waiting in the pipeline
North Queensland gets an impressive amount of sunshine each year and it also has some of Australia's best wind resources. The thing about North Queensland's wind is that it blows when the wind in the southern states doesn't – meaning that every local wind farm connected to the national grid gets Australia closer to 24/7 renewable energy.
In the Townsville and Wet Tropics region there are 18 proposed large-scale renewable energy projects, which would mean:
3.4GW of proposed capacity – enough to power over a million homes!
7.5 million tonnes per year of carbon dioxide savings
8,800 construction jobs
500 operational jobs
$6.7 billion worth of investment
5. The highest concentration of Tesla Powerwall batteries in the Southern Hemisphere.
Townsville's Harris Crossing development has the highest concentration of Tesla Powerwall installations in one housing estate in the Southern Hemisphere.
The developers partnered with Tesla and SuperGreen Solutions to offer buyers in the new estate discounted solar and storage installation for their new home. A whopping 97% of home owners took up the deal – and one year on many residents said they'd already made their money back.