5 March 2024

North Queensland Airports to soon be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Cairns Airport

The owners of Cairns and Mackay airports have signed a deal that will see them operating on 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025. Photo: Cairns Airport.

A Queensland Government program to boost renewable energy in the state’s Far North will soon see Cairns and Mackay airports powered by 100 per cent renewable energy.

An agreement by Queensland’s publicly owned energy companies CleanCo and the North Queensland Airport Group, has seen Cairns and Mackay airports commit to powering 100 per cent of their land operations with renewable energy by 2025.

The power will be supplied from the Kaban Wind Farm near Ravenshoe just south of Atherton.

The government says that this and other initiatives to decarbonise industry and meet Queensland’s renewable energy targets will safeguard the Far North’s $3.2 billion tourism industry, and the jobs that depend on it.

Queensland Minister for Energy and Clean Economy Jobs Mick de Brenni said tourists came from around the world to visit the Far North, and with the tourism industry the biggest employer in the Far North, initiatives that took action on climate were critical.

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“The transition to a low emissions economy is well underway, and this commitment to power Cairns and Mackay airports with renewable energy is another step forward towards our goal of 75 per cent emissions reduction by 2035,” he said.

“The government is working hard to protect the wildlife and world-renowned ecosystems of the Far North – and the one in seven locals whose jobs rely on them – and today’s announcement shows our commitment to supporting local jobs and safeguard our natural assets.”

The announcement comes just weeks after Jet Zero Australia Pty Ltd and LanzaJet Inc signed a licence and engineering agreement to develop a project to convert bioethanol from feedstock left over from sugar cane production into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and renewable diesel, a project that would see sufficient SAF produced to meet the annual jet fuel demands for Cairns and Townsville airports.

Minister for Tourism Michael Healy said there was a global desire for more sustainable, meaningful tourism experiences, and that the partnership with CleanCo could help propel Queensland to be a world leader and number one destination in that sector.

“It also aligns with our ambitious 10-year tourism industry strategy to more than double the state’s visitor economy to $44 billion in overnight visitor expenditure by 2032,” he said.

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CleanCo CEO Tom Metcalfe added, “This collaboration is of great importance to CleanCo and allows Queenslanders to make a direct connection between the renewables we are investing in, the journeys they travel and the airports they visit in beautiful North Queensland.

“Thank you to North Queensland Airports for trusting CleanCo as a partner in the organisation’s sustainability journey. We are delighted to support Queensland’s valuable tourism industry through the supply of renewable energy generated right here in Queensland.”

North Queensland Airports CEO Richard Barker said it was his company’s responsibility to actively protect the environment around Cairns and Mackay airports.

“We are committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2025, a significant target which would make us among the first carbon-neutral airports in Australasia,” he said.

“Our partnership with CleanCo means 100 per cent of our electricity, and that of tenants, will be powered by renewable energy, placing us on the trajectory to well and truly meet this goal. Investing in good environmental practice is the right thing to do, and vital for long-term business success.”

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