Parks Victoria turns to solar power on Gabo Island

The newly-installed solar panels in front of the historic lighthouse. Photo: Supplied.
The newly-installed solar panels in front of the historic lighthouse. Photo: Supplied.

Gabo Island is now home to Parks Victoria’s most remote solar power system.

Until recently, staff and guests staying on the island relied exclusively on a diesel generator and battery storage for electricity. But now, with the 10-kW solar power system up and running, the sun is playing a major role in the island’s future electricity needs.

Parks Victoria says the 32-panel solar system will result in substantial environmental, economic and social benefits and less safety risks when transporting fuel. 

Greenhouse gas emission reduction is estimated to be about 17 tonnes a year and savings on reduced fuel, maintenance and generator depreciation about $18,000 a year.

Sustainable practice coordinator Peter Jenkins said it was not the first time Parks Victoria had installed solar power in a remote location.

An aerial view of the Gabo Island cottages. Photo: Supplied.

An aerial view of the Gabo Island cottages. Photo: Supplied.

“It’s been used in Tidal River, French Island and Point Nepean. But not on this scale or in such a remote and challenging environment,” Mr Jenkins said.

“This is a high-quality system designed to resist damage from salt and wind and it can be monitored remotely.”

Parks Victoria estimates the return on investment will be about five years and that a positive cost benefit analysis would result in the installation of a wind turbine as a back-up. 

Mallacoota team leader Phil Reichelt said the project was positive on all fronts.

“It’s about Parks Victoria embracing the use of renewable energy for power generation in remote areas,” Mr Reichelt said.

“With solar panels, battery storage and generator back up, staff and guests on Gabo Island can sleep easy knowing that their electricity needs are being met in an environmentally responsible and economically sustainable manner.”

Mallacoota team leader Phil Reichelt in front of the solar panels. Photo: Supplied.

Mallacoota team leader Phil Reichelt in front of the solar panels. Photo: Supplied.

Guests should also sleep much sounder, with the generator running time to be reduced by about 75 per cent.