A Case For a Floating Solar Farm in Townsville’s Ross River Dam

A study on the viability of a Floating Solar Farm on the Ross Dam
A Floating Solar Farm In Japan – Photo by Charles Goodell

This is a guest post by Elly Hanrahan, an intern for the North Queensland Conservation Council. All views expressed are representative of Elly and not necessarily of the NQCC.

Townsville is currently experiencing its driest 11-month period since records began in 1841. With no action on water security from any level of government, desperate residents have formed the newly created Facebook group called ‘Water For Townsville Action Group’ in order to come up with a plan to secure Townsville’s water supply into the future.

At the moment, Townsville City Council is pumping 130 mega litres (ML) of water a day from the Burdekin and at a cost of roughly $27,000 per day. Even whilst pumping at full capacity, the dam level continues to drop with Townsville residents using roughly 1,700L per day- more than eight times the average usage of Brisbane residents. Evaporation also plays a large part in the shortage; given the extraordinary size of the shallow dam, Councillor Paul Jacob confirmed to the Townsville Bulletin that we lose between ‘20 and 40 mega litres per day due to evaporation alone’.

It is obvious that prolonged pumping is not a sustainable solution as it is both expensive and inefficient. Many solutions have been proposed such as duplicating the Haughton pipeline from the Burdekin, desalination systems, recycling plants and the proposed construction of the Hell’s Gate dam. One of the more creative solutions put forward on the Water Action Facebook group was a floating solar panel array on the Ross River Dam itself.

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