Jobs bonanza in solar conversion as Noosa plugs in

Noosa businesses could help create 800 skilled jobs in the next eight years and save $3.4 million if they were to join the solar push by Zero Emissions Noosa.

That is the upside of ZEN's "historic” report, Achieving 100% Renewable Electricity in Noosa, produced by Dr Rob Passey of ITP Renewables, funded by the Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation.

Foundation chair Dick Barnes said "this is just the start of a very big idea and NBRF would welcome being further involved in the next stages,” he said.

ZEN president Vivien Griffin said this report was a "historic milestone in our collective journey to zero emissions”.

The downside of Noosa not adopting a solar- powered future was spelt out starkly by Noosa Mayor Tony Wellington at the official handover of the report beside a Noosa Marina decked out with a roof full of sun-powered panels: "The recent IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report has underpinned the urgency of these sorts of actions.

"The latest report argues that the planet has just 12 years to avoid a climate change catastrophe.”

The mayor said the IPCC report is based on 6000 scientific projects and reports and "it would be pretty foolish for all of us to ignore such a mass of expertise”.

While private homes have been quick to take up solar, Noosa businesses have been "dragging their heels somewhat” with just a 5 per cent take-up compared to Noosa's 35 per cent domestic adoption rate.

Ms Griffin said the report set out pathways for achieving the ZEN goal and said the Noosa Marina and a growing band of others were "a shining example at a business that is doing not only great business, but also great for the environment as well”.

Marina manager Warren Smith said deciding to invest $135,000 two months ago to install 200 kilowatts of solar panelling was a "no-brainer really”.

"They've been offering us a saving at this stage of around a quarter to a third of our energy consumption to the tenants.

"And we pass on that saving to the tenants - they're saving about 20 per cent off their power bill.”

Mr Smith said the panels would pay for themselves in five years and stage two would see the addition of software to help manage the electricity usage better for an expected further 15 per cent power saving.

"I encourage any other commercial business to put solar on, it is well worthwhile.”

Local businesswoman Di Henshall has noted her interior design service has achieved a 55 per cent reduction in energy usage and an 86 per cent reduction in energy costs since her solar installation. 

Mayor Tony Wellington said charity group Waves of Kindness is a net contributor of energy to the grid having achieved zero carbon emissions.

"That amounts to a saving of almost $11,000 a year and no electricity bill whatsoever. This is a 38 per cent return on their investment that will be paid back in just 2.6 years .. how smart is that?”

Zero Emissions Noosa's Vivien Griffin paid tributed to solar adopters like Gull Brothers, Bissell's Paint & Panel, Page Bros Furniture, Noosa Flashpackers, Noosa Seafood Providores, Noosa Radiators, Waves of Kind- ness and Noosa Sun Motel. 

"These companies are doing the right thing, while making their businesses more profitable and more secure,” she said.

"I applaud them all, and I worry a bit about those others which are lagging behind. They need to catch up right now.”

Part of the ZEN solar blueprint involves its own action teams working in with the various sectors to help overcome barriers to installation and maximise the benefits. 

Ms Griffin said ZEN was working with Tourism Noosa to gather case studies encourage tourism operators to make this investment and working with a solar installers cluster to ensure quality outcomes.