Reef Ecologic


Postal address:
14 Cleveland Terrace
North Ward, Townsville
Queensland Australia 4810

Telephone: 0418726584
International: +61 418726584


0428 889 812

Reef Ecologic is a non-government organisation providing applied science services for triple bottom line outcomes.

Renewable Reef Futures

Renewable Reef Futures Communiqué

November 2015  



Renewable Reef Futures was developed as a project by students participating in the 2015 Queensland Centre for Sustainability Leadership course. Reef Renewable Futures is an informal collective working to facilitate knowledge, research and advocate for the expansion of renewable energy in the tropical north.



We envision a future where healthy human and ocean communities are supported through sustainable practices.



To identify, prioritise and catalyse high potential opportunities for renewable energy projects along the Great Barrier Reef.



While Queensland has an abundance of clean and renewable energy resources (wind, solar, wave), it has the lowest percentage of clean energy utilisation out of all the states in Australia.


The Renewable Reef Futures project was initiated by a team of five professionals undertaking the 2015 Centre for Sustainability Leadership course. The project was initiated through a common interest among the team to encourage a clean energy future for the Great Barrier Reef.


On October 15 2015, the group invited renewable energy stakeholders to participate in a workshop to discuss renewable energy projects and a path forward to collaboration and action. The Workshop was developed as a mechanism to encourage key stakeholders in Townsville, Queensland to collectively discuss and identify coastal, island and marine renewable energy projects for the Reef.


More than 30 individuals attended from key sectors, including academia, industry, government and not-for-profit; contributing to a robust, informed and collaborative discussion throughout the day. This communiqué outlines the projects that were collectively identified, as well as the actions and recommendations that arose.



Objectives of workshop

1.     Share knowledge to compile a list of potential problems and obstacles and a shared understanding for implementation of renewable energy in North Queensland

2.     List of priority and potential projects with renewable energy in Queensland with particular focus on “Quick Start” projects

3.     Collate resources to improve understanding of existing knowledge and projects and identify how can our efforts be best utilized?

4.     Define connection between reef and renewable energy production on social and economic scales (i.e. how to quantify and communicate)

5.     Create an ongoing communication group to discuss strategy, action and communication. Combo from plan and workshop reality



Summary from Speakers

Vern Veitch, Deputy Mayor Townsville City Council

Coal power plants are falling failing today and renewable energy is the future of Queensland.  Southern Australia targets 50% renewable energy by 2020 but and are already at over 40%, so why not push for a greater goal? Why only 50%? Queensland also needs to push for more than 50%.  Queensland has the ideal climate, national grid, best solar resources, reliable wind, and best sun light, so why is there not more solar renewable power? There is unlimited vast opportunity in Queensland for renewable energy, we need to avoid thermal coal energy and move into the 21st century.


Dr Adam Smith, Jennifer Loder and Belle MacCarthy, Renewable Reef Futures

Introduction of organizers, workshop mission and goals. Renewable Reef Futures was started by a team of 5 from the Centre for Sustainability Leadership that envision a future where healthy human and ocean communities are supported through sustainable practices. Queensland is in the coal business but there is a transition happening to renewable energy. Currently there are no renewable energy resources such as tide, wave, wind or solar utilised from the ocean in Queensland.



Frank Dallmeyer, Tropical Energy Solutions

Opportunities include solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydro, wave, current and storage. Challenges are harsh environment with high temperature and relative humidity, cyclonic winds, peak load profile with big nighttime loads due to increased air conditioning usage and distortion from Subsidies. Commercial tendering process typically encourages short term strategy and cutting corners on system quality.  Local Rules and Compliance are inconsistent and “zero export” rules create cost but spoil value to community. There is some success and personal example of Triple zero house “000” = zero electricity, zero gas and zero emissions. Reflections are that Ergon and legislation transitioning to renewable is a major challenge.  North Queensland tropics could be an opportunity to develop tropical renewable solutions.

Link to his presentation here


Sophie Allen, Ergon Energy

97% of the state’s energy is distributed by Ergon Energy in Queensland.  39 communities are supplied off the grid, mostly with 33 diesel power stations with 2% being supplied by renewable sources including solar, wind and geothermal. Ergon Energy has a targetto reach 30% renewable energy generation by 2025 to reduce reliance on one fuel source and mitigate against the volatility of diesel fuel pricesAs the costs of renewable technologies continues to come down it will become increasingly financially viable to install renewable energy assets.

Link to her presentation here


Craig Froome, Global Change Institute, University of Queensland

Partnerships for sustainable development should be based on the principles of national ownership. Renewable energy options for islands are that most have a lot of sunshine, wind, water and waste. Most of the renewable energy technology that is introduced to electricity grid is technologically mature, but intermittent. Issues for Islands include no ownership of energy assets, desire to move away from non renewable and future water supply risks. Examples of new technology is floating Solar currently tested in a bay in Japan, this would work with islands and potentially dams and other water sources. These floating solar panels reduce evaporation in areas where water is needed. Developing ocean renewable energy technologies such as submerged “wind” turbines and shrouded turbines. Improved battery storage is considered necessary for the future of renewable energy especially in remote locations. The goal is to use storage to create a level usage of energy to rely on, eliminating or reduction energy fluctuations.

Link to his presentation here


Tim Quirey, Department of Energy and Water Supply

The government has set as a priority unlocking the state’s and renewable energy potential and establishing Queensland as a renewable energy leader. Objectives include protecting the environment, promoting long term benefits for energy consumers, integrating into well-functioning energy markets, creating jobs and a diverse economy, leveraging funding into QLD for renewable energy projects and providing value for the government. The government’s policy agenda is to be primarily driven by its “Solar Futures Policy Initiatives”.

Link to his presentation here


Warwick Powell, Chairman of Sister City Partners

Biofuels provides a sustainable new industry for north Queensland as waste to energy, extremely flexible technology, mature and proven. Potential to create approximately 1500 new jobs. Moving ahead in north Queensland with small scale pyrolysis unit. To achieve proof of concept stationary engine work with respected Australian engine experts, then extended operation trials. Goal a timely, well-prepared move into detailed development of the first commercial biofuel plant(s) in north Queensland.

Link to his presentation here



Mind Maps

During Workshop Sessions 1 and 2 mind maps are a tool to visually represent challenges of interests to the group related to three key renewable energy topics. After naming the key issues participants worked backward to identify the potential causes of the main issue and to observe where causes may be interlinked.  Step two was identifying what actions could be taken to rectify some of the identified causes and what steps would need to be taken to reach a solution.


Challenge: There are currently no renewable energy projects in the marine environment in Queensland. The workshop identified the lack of champions\advocates and higher costs of implementation as barriers. We identified opportunities for a pilot project associated with a location (Magnetic or Palm Island), industry (coal port) and reef recovery. A key is to develop incentives through policy and communication.

Challenge: The lack of a regional renewable energy strategy for tailored for the tropical North Queensland was identified as a major barrier for progressing renewable energy. Issues of complexity, powerful stakeholder groups, limited communication and inconsistent policies were noted as major contributing factors that could be addressed through tailored action.

Challenge: The ability to connect mid-scale solar panels to the existing grid in Queensland was identified as a major barrier for uptake of renewable energy in the commercial sector. Issues of poor communication and inconsistent regulations were highlighted to be major contributing factors that could be address through tailored action.

Project ideas

Participants generated ideas around a diversity of projects that could be implemented around renewable energy. Upon review, the projects seemed to fall within four major categories of communications, Research and Development, medium or large scale commercial projects.

List of project ideas

Communication projects

·       Project to help connect people to the reef and climate change in TSV/N QLD

·       100% renewable goal--comms plan, capture work that’s been done

·       Climate Rally Nov 2015--vision N QLD vision, protection of reef

·       Policy for change in RE

·       Connect TSV with the reef, it forms part of Queensland identity for communications on climate change

·       Boosting the planning codes with council

·       Mobile container with PV to demonstrate how they can go off grid

·       Reef Guardians program to link in RE

·       First solar powered data centre in Australia

·       Community renewable projects (Frontier Economics is developing toolkit)

·       All tourism companies with GBR have a minimum percentage of renewable energy and use this for marketing tool

·       Incentives from Reef Trust to boost demonstration, education & research projects

Research & Development projects

·       JCU (and UQ) centre for tropical renewable energy

·       Map the space--where is the energy needed and what source can provide it

·       Get government to explore identification of sites just like mining explorations

·       Technology test beds to test before deployment

·       Citizen science to help collect information for mapping strategic RE projects at local level

·       Hybridised renewable energy tools--how can we link multiple approached to produce consistent

·       Community investment model where savings go to other projects

Medium scale renewable energy projects

·       Floating solar -- freshwater dam OR linked with coral regeneration

·       Palm Island Dam floating solar panels

·       Floating solar panels running desalination machine at Reef HQ

·       Biofuels from boat fouling cleaning

·       Prawn farmers floating solar

·       Triple 0 power systems for us on a reef going vessel

·       Connections of medium sized solar with the grid to give back

·       Renewable energy at the stadium

·       Wind turbine at Palm Island

Large scale renewable energy projects

·       Offshore wind farms

·       Mixing seawater with freshwater for energy

·       Energy from waste

·       Solar powered facility on the reef for research, eco hotel etc

·       Explore warm water cooling


To move the discussion from the workshop forward it is proposed that:


Ø    A Reef Renewable Futures working group will be established to take forward discussions and proposals raised at the workshops and maintain a forum for ongoing sharing of information and resources. We suggest that collaborative working groups in other locations (such as Brisbane) would be beneficial in the future. The Townsville working group contact is: Adam Smith, Reef Ecologic or 0418726584.

Ø    The preparation of a one page working group strategy to guide the next 1 to 3 years.

Ø    Initiating planning for a larger renewable energy conference for 2016.

Ø    Develop a basic website for the network to share information and communicate to the public.