Dorrigo hydro plan powers up
REAPING energy from Dorrigo Plateau's undammed rivers could see the region become the renewable energy blueprint for Australia's East Coast.
An ambitious Run-of-River Hydros Project is in the early stages of development - pioneered by the Dorrigo Chamber of Commerce and local hydroelectric experts Pelena Energy.
Pelena Energy owner Peter Lynch said the project could bring significant environmental benefits to the region.
"Hydro has had a bad rap over many years due to the perception that it's is only possible with large dams," he said
"But there are great benefits for small hydro systems that don't stop the run of water."
Mr Lynch said advantages of on-farm systems would allow landholders to tap in to a "24-seven power supply" and reduce peak energy costs.
"During the annual low-rainfall period in Dorrigo, there are extra demands on extracting water from the river for irrigation as well as a second drain on the electricity grid to supply energy to pump this water," he said.
"Because Dorrigo has the ideal combination of high rain fall and topography - it's about using an energy resource that's already on people's farms."
Mr Lynch has had widespread success in similar projects across the world, but said regulatory challenges have stopped the uptake of small projects being installed in Australia.
But with $50,000 for a development study granted by the NSW Government, Mr Lynch remained positive the project could come into fruition in the foreseeable future.
Chamber president Katiuska Cruz agreed it was an exciting proposal for the region.
"The Dorrigo Chamber of Commerce recognizes the potential positive impact on the Dorrigo community and business if we were to go hydro with jobs created in the manufacturing, installation and maintenance of any hydro program," Ms Cruz said.
"We're very much hoping that this is going to provide a template for other run-of-river development projects on the East Coast."