Resort boosts solar power to protect Reef

Climate leader Peter Gash set new benchmarks for sustainable tourism in the Great Barrier Reef when he harnessed solar power to reduce his resort's diesel consumption by 70 per cent.

Now, the owner of Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort off Bundaberg is about to boost the resort's solar-generation capacity and slash diesel consumption further.

The hybrid solar power system we installed in 2008 has a 20kW capacity and produces around 120kW hours of renewable energy per day. Mr Gash said.

We've just begun installing another 96 solar panels onto existing buildings at the resort so we can effectively double our renewable power capacity.

Mr Gash said the project would cut the 150-bed resort's diesel consumption to 100 litres a day by the end of this year, compared to 550 litres a day when diesel generators powered the resort.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Tourism and Recreation Director Chris Briggs said Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort was among a number of high standard tourism operators working with marine managers to reduce their impact on the Reef.

A healthy Great Barrier Reef is vital for a healthy tourism industry and we commend operators who are taking action to minimise their impact on the marine environment, he said.

"Mr Gash has worked closely with us to establish a Great Barrier Reef Tourism Climate Change Action Strategy, which guides operators on how they can improve reef health and the viability of their industry.

Conducting an energy audit and making changes that minimise the operation's impact on the environment is a key action identified in this strategy.

The GBRMPA is recognising marine tourism operators who are taking powerful action on climate change to encourage other operators to adopt best environmental practices.

Mr Gash took over the lease of Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, the southernmost reef island in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, in 2005.
His involvement with GBRMPA's Tourism Climate Change Action Group prompted him to conduct a major energy audit in 2007. That kicked off a series of sweeping changes to make the resort carbon neutral.
Mr Gash said one of the biggest benefits of installing a solar power system was the way it had influenced behaviour.

The fact that we are creating our own electricity has made staff and guests very conscious about the need to conserve power and not waste it. Apart from the obvious benefits for the Reef, this culture shift has been the most positive spin-off of all.