Should Governments promote the development of tropical cities such as Townsville?

I am both proud and somewhat bewildered to read that Townsville, where I was born and spent my first fifteen years, is approaching a population of 200,000 people, as reported in the Townsville Bulletin this morning (Welcome to Townsville: population 200,000). While Townsville has many attractions, including the Strand, Castle Hill, and the nearby Magnetic Island and Crystal Creek, the tropical climate and the risk of cyclones significantly reduce its attractiveness. Any migrants from southern parts of Australia would find the place unbearable unless they have air-conditioning, and it appears that air-conditioning use must now be substantial in Townsville. The Bulletin reports:

…Mr Dwyer [a Townsville economist] said if North Queensland were to turbo-charge its economic growth, it needed a base load power station.

Townsville residents use 18 per cent more power than the national average while businesses use 50 per cent more.

“We use more power than the average Ergon customer and pay a higher price because we receive it from Calide (Gladstone) and therefore pay more for our power,” he said.

Both the Federal and State Governments are actively promoting the development of Townsville through the expansion of Lavarack Barracks and the designation of Townsville as the second capital of Queensland. But given concerns about climate change and the rising cost of electricity (which is due largely to the need to build capacity to meet the peak demand that air-conditioners contribute to), Governments should reconsider whether it’s sensible to promote the development of major population centres in the tropics.

This entry was posted in Climate change, Energy, Townsville. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Should Governments promote the development of tropical cities such as Townsville?

  1. 800psi says:

    Keep in mind that a tropical climate is attractive to many, and that Townsville’s climate is mild in comparison to economic powerhouses in the gulf states, southeast Asia and Brazil.

    Townsville is close to the Bowen Basin, from where natural gas for its existing peak load generators is sourced. Base load generation from this (or hydro from the upper Herbert, if inclined) would be quite feasible.

    Economic risks from cyclone damage (from which Brisbane is not immune) are well within the scope of modest insurance cover.

    • Gene Tunny says:

      Thanks for the comment. Good point about the Bowen Basin. I’ll have to look more closely at the base load power issue.

      • Adella says:

        Hydro electricity from the Burdekin dam is a possibility that is often discussed. Would love to see that come to the region since I am a bit of a greenie. BTW I migrated from Canada and I hardly ever air condition my house, I have good passive cooling and I like the heat.

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