Low Isles lov­ing car­bon neu­tral

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - TOURISM TALK - RICHARD KOSER

LIV­ING on an is­land can be very en­er­gy­in­ten­sive - just ask Rick Kit­patrick and Alex Ma­teer, who look af­ter Low Isles. They live eight nau­ti­cal miles off the Port Dou­glas coast, in the mid­dle of the Great Bar­rier Reef Ma­rine Park.

They have to bring all their own food and fuel onto the is­land, and they aren’t al­lowed to let any waste es­cape.

Quite apart from the house they live in, the is­land con­tains a sec­ond house for re­searchers and vol­un­teers, and of course the light­house.

De­spite the en­ergy-in­ten­sive set-up, how­ever, Low Isles is on track to be­come the first car­bon-neu­tral is­land in the world.

The is­land has been fully pow­ered by so­lar pan­els and biodiesel gen­er­a­tors since 2008, and catches its own wa­ter.

A bat­tery of 30 so­lar pan­els each put out 170w, while the gen­er­a­tors only kick in oc­ca­sion­ally to keep the bat­tery banks topped up.

“We try to do all the en­ergy-in­ten­sive things, like wash­ing clothes, dur­ing the day,” Ms Ma­teer said.

“About 60 per cent of all the power goes to the sew­er­age treat­ment plant, to en­sure no run-off goes to the reef.”

In 2009, the gen­er­a­tors only ran about five hours a month.

This year, how­ever, has been much less sunny, so the gen­nies have been on most days.

How­ever, the wet­ter weather means the is­land’s seven rain­wa­ter tanks haven’t needed to be topped up.

At the same time, more and more of the Low Isles tour op­er­a­tors are go­ing green.

Sail­away and Wavedancer, two of the reg­u­lar vis­i­tors to Low Isles, have Eco­Tourism Aus­tralia ad­vanced eco­tourism cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Quick­sil­ver’s Wavedancer has also been recog­nised by Eco­Tourism Aus­tralia as a cli­mate change in­no­va­tor for tak­ing steps to re­duce car­bon emis­sions, while Sail­away has been awarded the top rank of cli­mate ac­tion leader for their ef­forts to off­set all car­bon emis­sions.

Car­bon neu­tral: Low Isles is on track to be car­bon-neu­tral

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