Thursday, April 25, 2024

Virtual energy network a first for metro Victoria

Hobson’s Bay City Council in Victoria is taking the lead to achieve the goal of zero net greenhouse gas emissions for Council by 2020 and for the community by 2030 through the large-scale roll out of a Virtual Energy Network (VEN) and the installation of new solar panels on more than 40 Council-owned buildings.

Partnering with Council on the project is Australian firm, Enervest, that specialises in the design, delivery and operation of solar-energy generation and storage assets.

The VEN will generate almost four megawatts of solar power, enabling Council to share energy from buildings generating excess electricity with other buildings that require more.  

Mayor of Hobsons Bay, Jonathon Marsden said the solar energy system would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 4,000 tonnes per annum, or up to 55% of Council’s direct emissions, which is equivalent to taking almost 600 homes off the grid.

“Our Virtual Power project provides substantial environmental, community and economic benefits, creating local jobs, bringing down electricity costs and reducing carbon emissions,” said Mayor Marsden.

“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.

The project also enables Council to install systems on tenanted buildings, with both Council and the tenant benefiting financially from the investment. Tenants will soon have the ability to purchase solar energy at a discounted rate, saving money and reducing carbon emissions.

The roll out of new solar panels on tenanted Council buildings commenced in December.

Mayor Marsden said the project would generate substantial year on year savings for the Council by reducing energy costs and would pay for itself within nine years – similar to a residential solar installation.

“I am very proud of the way the project sources innovative solutions using cutting edge technology to reduce carbon emissions,” he said.

“We are set to become the first Australian council to build a virtual energy network, which will see almost 4 megawatts of solar panels installed across Council-owned assets, providing low cost green electricity to Council and the community and reducing Council’s total direct emissions.”

He said the initiative was a future-proofed project, with the opportunity for the VEN to become a true Virtual Power Plant (VPP) by adding battery technology at any stage in the future.

“Furthermore, there are opportunities for the community to participate in what will become a Hobsons Bay Community Solar network. This will enable anyone to opt-in to be a producer of energy, a user of energy, or both. Under this model, community cost savings will grow even further.”

Enervest Managing Director, Ross Warby said the company was excited to be delivering the milestone initiative for Hobsons Bay City Council.

“The precedence being set by such innovative approaches and strategies from the Council demonstrates true leadership, forward thinking & ‘smart business’ that other LGA’s can learn from and adopt,” said Mr Warby.

“The Virtual Energy Network model allows a transition to true energy independence, emissions reduction and community access to affordable clean energy that is generated and distributed locally.

“We’re looking forward to continuing to deliver the project in partnership with Hobsons Bay City Council and supporting the ongoing performance to achieve maximised results for our client.” 

An extensive community consultation program will soon commence to engage Hobsons Bay community members in having input into the design of the VEN model to help determine how the benefits are shared across the community.

Expressions of Interest to be involved in this process are open and community members are encouraged to apply. For more information and to apply, visit participate.hobsonsbay.vic.gov.au/community-solar-program

Council’s solar project has been developed in response to community feedback received during the Hobsons Bay 2030 Community Vision.

For more information, visit https://www.hobsonsbay.vic.gov.au/solar

Latest Articles