Local Community Energy Zone Project

Advance Queensland, a State Government Agency, has a program called Queensland Connects which is about team based project groups  undertaking planning activities which might stimulate innovation and business development in regions. A team based in the West Moreton Region, Championed by myself has won Project Funding of $30,000 to develop a plan for Community Energy Zones which will have a initial place-based focus in the Ipswich and Mt Tamborine areas.
That team consists of a cross section of skilled professionals who will be able to contribute to creating an inertia to increase the take-up of renewable energy. The two locations being considered Ipswich and Mt Tamborine are quite different in population density, business diversity and local government contexts. The learnings in each case will be important for future projects. Using two different network positions (Ipswich at the States interconnector and Mt Tamborine as an end point), it is hoped to create models which might be replicated for use in other locations.
The current discussions generally around renewable energy initiatives in many cases has been in the policy area. Whilst this is necessary, communities have been ahead of these. Ipswich has the opportunity to build on its impressive growth in industry development to date:
“Ipswich is fortunate in that against other Council areas across South East QLD, we have one of the largest gazetted supplies of future industrial land. This means that with further industry incentives and a focus on power minimisation, could see Ipswich remain an attractive location for small and large industry.” Ralph Breaden, Ipswich City Council Office of Economic Development.
Establishment of a Community Energy Zone in Ipswich will provide many benefits. These benefits would be not only for the obvious short term economic development, but it would add from an investment attraction perspective. Providing green energy to current and future local and international organisations would attract these companies and help them in meeting their carbon reduction targets.
Engagement in the Queensland Connects will give the group a discipline to deliver the scale necessary to transform these two regional communities by helping to educate different groups and helping to create a common purpose in each location. Some of those groups would include: Owners Property Investors Institutional investors Property Developers Town Planners Business Owners Community Organisations Individuals with an environmental interest
The goal is to establish a community base which will accept and embrace the approach to creating a Community Energy Zone in each location based on the benefits that can be achieved locally and the contribution that the overall outcome will make to addressing environmental issues topical at this time. Participation in this project will provide the credibility / research rigour / strategies / initiatives and frameworks to scale up the approach to be used in other locations. The Ipswich City Council has a commitment towards a Sustainable City which includes strategies consistent with the Queensland Connects Project aiming to: Reduce carbon emissions Reduce energy consumption Reduce waste generation Increase support of renewable technology
Planet Ark Power, a Partner in this project, has got extensive experience in deploying the technologies involved and has established multiple sites with energy efficient and renewable energy technologies and may contribute strongly to this project from an engineering and economics point of view.
The results of the project may be to build clusters of support for renewable energy generation and distribution across the City such that ultimately these could be interconnected to provide a network of renewable energy provision which would put Ipswich to the forefront of renewable energy generation and distribution in Queensland. These clusters may be built around industries, locations, Council Divisions where-ever there is an active group looking to reduce carbon emissions by aggregating renewable energy.
The project will run over 12 months and will be driven by an underpinning community consultation model led by QUT. The end result will be a report with plans and some examples of activities where these plans have been adopted.