University of Queensland helps ports power up with clean energy

University of Queensland (UQ) researchers are working with the North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP) to create Australia’s first ‘advanced technology’ coal terminals project at Dudgeon Point on the Central Queensland coast.

The contract was facilitated by the Consulting and Research Division of UQ’s main commercialisation company, UniQuest Pty Limited.

Researchers from UQ’s Global Change Institute and School of Economics Energy Economics and Management Group will help NQBP identify suitable sites for introducing possible solar, wind and tidal energy plants at the proposed Dudgeon Point coal terminals, south of Mackay. The research group will also advise on potential technologies that can be deployed on the identified sites.

The 1400ha proposed coal terminals site is situated at the existing Port of Hay Point. NQBP is the port authority for five port locations at Mackay, Hay Point, Abbot Point, Weipa and the non-trading port of Maryborough. The Dudgeon Point Coal Terminals Project is currently estimated at $10 – $12 billion and is expected to be operational by 2015/2016. The project was declared a project of significance by the Coordinator-General on 27 October 2011.

As well as identifying possible deployment sites for the new advanced energy technology, the research team will investigate the potential for developing a renewable energy market within the region. This includes assessing economic, environmental and social issues which may arise, and how the increased energy supply may be utilised to optimise outcomes for all stakeholders.

“The NQBP Corporation understands that ports are perceived as having large carbon footprints, but we believe we can reduce that impact and create a sustainable supply of energy on this site,” said NQBP’s Bob Brunner, General Manager Planning – Hay Point.

“The proposed Dudgeon Point development presents the ideal opportunity to look at all the possibilities for deploying renewable energy technologies and incorporating them into the overall expanded port design. The new coal terminals are expected to double the existing size of the Port of Hay Point, with the operation likely to become the largest coal port in the world.”

UniQuest Managing Director, David Henderson, said the research team was well-placed to support NQBP’s efforts to position Queensland at the forefront of 21st century port development.

“These UQ researchers are recognised internationally as renewable energy experts. The team worked with the Port of Townsville on a similar project in 2010, and they were also involved with UQ’s own $7.75 million, solar power system installed at St Lucia earlier this year,” Mr Henderson explained.

“Working with the NQBP to actively pursue a sustainable future for the Mackay region and Queensland’s energy sector demonstrates the capacity for Australian university-based expertise to contribute innovative responses to globally relevant challenges.”

The research contract, which began in August 2011, is scheduled for completion this month.

About UniQuest Pty Limited
Established by The University of Queensland in 1984, UniQuest is widely recognised as one of Australia’s largest and most successful university commercialisation groups, benchmarking in the top tier of technology transfer worldwide. From an intellectual property portfolio of 1,500+ patents it has created over 60 companies, and since 2000 UniQuest and its start-ups have raised more than $400 million to take university technologies to market. Annual sales of products using UQ technology and licensed by UniQuest are running at $3 billion. UniQuest now commercialises innovations developed at The University of Queensland and its commercialisation partner institutions: the University of Wollongong, University of Technology Sydney, James Cook University, University of Tasmania, Mater Medical Research Institute, and Queensland Health. UniQuest also provides access to an expansive and exclusive network of independent academics to tailor a consulting or project R&D solution to meet the diverse needs of industry and government, facilitating some 500 consulting, expert opinion, testing, and contract research services each year. UniQuest is also a leading Australasian provider of international development assistance recognised for excellence in technical leadership, management and research. Working with agencies such as AusAID, NZAID, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, UniQuest has developed and implemented more than 400 projects in 46 countries throughout the Pacific, South-East Asia, the Indian sub-continent and Africa.
About North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation
North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation Limited (NQBP) became a port authority on 1 July 2009, under the Transport Infrastructure Act 1994, for the seaport facilities at Hay Point, Mackay, Abbot Point, Weipa and Maryborough. It is one of Australia’s largest port authorities by tonnage throughput and more than half of Queensland’s trade, by tonnage, pass through its ports. Its aim is to be the recognised leader in the delivery of bulk cargo infrastructure. The sea port facilities NQBP manages are vital to the export and import performance of Queensland and Australia. NQBP ports handle bulk shipments of coal, bauxite, sand, sugar, grain, petroleum and general cargo. As a port authority, NQBP is responsible for strategic port planning; port business development; port infrastructure development; environmental management and marine pollution (within port limits); port security and safety; port efficiency; maintaining navigable port depths for shipping; issuing licences, leases and permits to other organisations for use of port land, infrastructure, and facilities (NQBP has a multi-user access policy in place at its ports to facilitate highest possible utilisation of port infrastructure, and greatest possible operational efficiency.

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