A solar array will power research into Australia’s tropical marine environment.
The announcement was made at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) near Townsville this week.
Speaking from AIMS’ headquarters at Cape Ferguson, CEO John Gunn said installation of the $2.25 million solar power system would help fund to AIMS’ scientific research.
“We will save around $300,000 annually on electricity bills – savings that can be used to support the important work being done by our researchers,” Mr Gunn said.
AIMS will commence planning and construction of the 800 kW solar panel array in the 2017-18 financial year.
Impact of climate change on tropical seas
A significant proportion of AIMS’ research is on the impact of global climate change on tropical marine ecosystems.
“Increasing atmospheric CO2 levels are known to be driving climate change,” Mr Gunn said.
“This initiative will reduce the Institute’s carbon footprint by more than 800 tonnes annually.”
The Institute’s National Sea Simulator (SeaSim) is proving to be an invaluable tool. It helps unravel the complex interplay of pressures on reef communities.
“SeaSim is allowing us to undertake complex research that was not previously possible,” Mr Gunn said. This includes assessing the impact of increasing CO2 on the Great Barrier Reef.
Mr Gunn said the Federal Government’s commitment helped Australia stay at the forefront of tropical marine research internationally.
AIMS headquarters at Cape Ferguson is roughly 50 km from Townsville’s CBD. It is adjacent to the centre of the Great Barrier Reef and surrounded by a 207 hectare national park and marine reserve.
A plastic-sucking sea vacuum powered by a solar array?
Last year, a concept known as SeaVax was announced as another way solar energy could contribute to a better environment.
Designed to work in a fleet program called SeaNet, the solar-powered SeaVax would scoop up plastic then shred it.
This would be pumped into a 150-tonne capacity holding bay where the waste is graded according to size. The filtered water exits at the rear of the ship.
The collected plastic could be transported to shore on solar powered barges and recycled.