The Queensland government is now accepting grant applications for its new $10 million Queensland Microgrid Pilot Fund (QMPF). The two-year program, which is part of the Australian state’s larger Energy and Jobs Plan, offers grants to support both feasibility studies and the construction of qualified microgrid projects.
Grants between $250,000 and $5 million will be awarded to remote and storm-prone communities looking to achieve energy independence and resilience through renewable generation and energy storage.
Often on the edge of the electricity grid, these communities are at risk of weather related outages, according to Energy and Renewables Minister Mick de Brenni. He said that the “fund is designed to support innovation to improve reliability of energy supply, create more local jobs, and help keep the lights on when extreme weather hits.”
First Nations communities benefit from microgrids
The program also aims to show how microgrids can help First Nations people take ownership of their energy independence.
“Microgrids will provide the ability to recover quickly or maintain energy supply during network outages caused by extreme weather events," said Lance McCallum, assistant minister for hydrogen development and the 50% Renewable Energy Target by 2030 program.
A First Nations Queenslander himself, McCallum added, “I know how important energy resilience and independence for these communities can be.”
The decarbonization of Queensland
Driven by the desire to protect the Great Barrier Reef, take action on climate issues and respond to the growing number and severity of natural disasters, the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan aims to reduce the state’s commercial and residential electricity emissions by 96% by 2040.
One of the first programs under the plan, the QMPF is a critical step in decarbonizing Queensland’s remote and regional communities, which often rely on diesel-powered generation.
“Our plan is to help people to take advantage of Queensland’s clean energy revolution, by installing new renewable generation and storage, as well as contributing to the decarbonization of regional Queensland,” de Brenni said.
Australia has long been at the forefront of the clean energy revolution and has a relatively long history of deploying community microgrids. The Daintree Microgrid Project, for example, will power a remote region of Queensland’s rainforest, ending the reliance many communities in the region have on diesel generators. Another community microgrid project is underway in New South Wales.
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