The story of Wadjemup/Rottnest Island doesn’t start and end on the famous shoreline or threaded bike paths. Rottnest Island is also an example of sustainable tourism. And, it all starts with the island’s water and energy systems.
Thanks to a team of engineers, the water you drink at Rottnest actually comes from a desalination plant on the island. The sweeping, white semi-circle of Longreach Bay not only holds the dappled water of your morning swim, but the saline (salty) water that’s collected by beach bores for filtering. This water is then pressurised to separate out the salt, forming a fresh, drinkable version that keeps the island hydrated without the need for groundwater.
Well, it works much the same as the wind turbine, except it’s sunlight that’s converted into electrical energy. The solar panels in our solar farm are made up of what are called photovoltaic (PV) cells. When the sun hits them, they absorb the light and release electrons. When the free electrons are captured, they produce an electrical current that can be converted into DC electricity. From there, the DC electricity is converted into AC electricity and distributed, just like the wind.
Jump on your bike or take a short bus ride to Geordie Bay, pausing on the way to watch the wind turbine outlined against the pale sky, a blurred reflection cast onto the salt lakes below. You’ll find our solar farm next to the airport between Brand Way and Parker Point Road. Don’t forget to look out for the educational signs we have dotted across the island too.
Thanks to the wind turbines and solar farm, we're relying less and less on diesel, resulting in a significant reduction in CO2 emissions. So far, we’ve achieved a reduction of around 1,600 tonnes in CO2 emissions each year – the equivalent of taking 350 cars off the road. And it’s about to get better. With new government investments coming into effect, the reduction in emissions will increase to an estimated 4,000 tonnes and the island will run off 75% renewable energy.
The solar farm can only produce power during sunlight hours and even though wind can occur 24 hours a day, it does lull at times. That’s when the hybrid energy system kicks in — it tells us how much energy is being generated outside and if it isn’t enough, energy from our diesel generators fills the gap.
Download our energy app to see just how much energy is being made and used on the island. Available on Android and iPhone, you’ll be able to see exactly how much energy the wind turbine and solar farm are producing right this minute.
In April 2022, the Western Australian government announced a $62 million upgrade to the island’s water and energy infrastructure, which will result in the island running on 75% renewable energy. The project will include doubling the island’s solar generation capacity, replacing the wind turbine with two new, more effective units, and upgrading the power distribution network.
When you visit the island, your presence will always have an impact. But by being mindful of the energy you use and choosing an eco-friendly path, you can reduce your footprint and become a subtle part of the island’s ecosystem. So, bring your own reusable water bottle, put your rubbish in the right bin, and turn off lights and appliances when you leave your island home. Read more about our sustainability initiatives — renewable water and energy are just the beginning — and how you can help, here.
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We look forward to welcoming you to Wadjemup / Rottnest Island soon.