Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Hobsons Bay fires up solar rollout

Hobsons Bay Council is ramping up its solar energy commitment, adding three new sites to its council facility solar panel rollout.

The Altona Civic Centre, Newport Hub and the Laverton building that houses social enterprise Mesh Mash are the latest Council-owned community facilities to host their new ‘solar system’, joining over 40 local buildings to be fitted out with solar panels as part of Council’s large scale virtual power plant and solar panel project. 

Council says the rooftop panels will generate renewable energy required onsite, and surplus clean, green power will be moved from one building to another within the network, reducing Council’s reliance on grid-supplied energy.

“We are sourcing innovative solutions using cutting edge technology to reduce carbon emissions and produce almost four megawatts of low-cost green electricity,” said Mayor, Jonathon Marsden.

“Our Virtual Power project provides substantial environmental, community and economic benefits, as well as creating local jobs.

“Importantly, it has the capacity to be expanded or replicated across the western region, Melbourne or Victoria, stimulating the same surge of benefits in communities across the state. We look forward to future opportunities to partner with the state government to expand the impact and benefits of this program.

“When we come out of lockdown, we are confident our community will enjoy using our facilities even more knowing they are fuelled by homegrown, renewable energy.”

Partnering with Council on the project is Australian firm Enervest, a company that specialises in the design, delivery and operation of solar-energy generation and storage assets. Circle Energy is also partnering with Council to provide the technology to help move solar energy between buildings.

“We are proud to be the principal partner for Council’s distributed solar program,” said Enervest Managing Director, Ross Warby.

“It is a truly exciting project for the Council and no doubt for the local community. It demonstrates great forward thinking, initiative, and leadership within the Hobsons Bay area and for the broader community itself.

“The program will offset a significant amount of emissions related to electricity supply and champion the uptake of further renewables throughout the network.”

Once installation at all sites is complete in the coming months, Council says it will have the capacity to generate almost four megawatts of solar power across the network – enough energy required to power approximately 1,000 average Victorian households.

It says the system will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 4,000 tonnes per year, which is up to 55% of Council’s total carbon emissions, the equivalent of taking almost 600 homes off the grid.

At the Altona Civic Centre, one of the network’s high yield sites, the 402 kW system will supply about 80% of the building’s energy needs, preventing the release of an estimated 642 tonnes of carbon dioxide into our environment annually. The 513,555 kW of estimated energy generated annually on site is enough energy to supply over 110 average Victorian households.  Over 2,000 m2 of panel coverage is in place at the centre, which is over the size of four and a half standard basketball courts. 

Council says it has future-proofed the project by equipping it with capacity for batteries to make it a true virtual power plant. There will be a number of possible opportunities to use this battery stored energy, such as powering Council’s electric vehicle fleet in the future, it said.

Council’s infrastructure investment in the project is expected to be repaid from energy savings within nine years.

For more information about Council’s Virtual Power large scale solar panel and virtual power project, visit www.hobsonsbay.vic.gov.au/solar

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