Low Isles loving carbon neutral
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