More than one megawatt of solar power capacity has been installed in the City of Moreland through MEFL’s Positive Charge team this financial year. This is more than double the result for 2016/17, when Positive Charge installed 439 kilowatts across Moreland, and the first time this milestone has been realised in a financial year.
This milestone has been achieved by action from households, community groups, schools and businesses across Moreland.
The Big Solar Switch campaign aims to be Australia’s largest switch to solar power. The campaign will unlock the massive potential of not-for-profit and community organisations by helping them to go solar.
This initiative has been developed by MEFL and Community Buying Group exclusively for Australia’s 55,000 registered charities and 600,000 community organisations. It uses the strength of aggregated purchasing to reduce the cost and barriers of installing solar PV systems. The package includes a ‘best value’ guarantee which includes negotiated rates for the sector, extended warranties, expert advice and links to funding.
We regularly receive enquiries from those living in heritage overlay areas asking how they can go solar. In Moreland you need to apply for a planning permit for solar if you live in a heritage precinct and the panels will be visible from the street or a park. Permit applications are usually processed within 10 working days, and cost under $200.
Residents of ten council regions in southern Sydney are now set to receive free energy help and advice from the Positive Charge experts. The Sydney program, known as Our Energy Future, is a collaboration between Positive Charge and SSROC (Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils).
Our Energy Future was launched in Sydney last month and was a great success – there was a buzz of excitement in the air about the new program. The evening was hosted by the fantastic Ben Peacock, founder of The Republic of Everyone and there were great speeches from MEFL’s own Alison Rowe, SSROCs General Manager Namoi Dougall and the ever-inspiring Professor Lesley Hughes from the Climate Council.
MEFL is currently undertaking a solar feasibility project for the Shire of Moira and the City of Greater Shepparton as part of both Councils’ ambitions to dramatically enhance their renewable energy programs.
The two Councils have recognised a need to:
Deliver reductions in the cost of running their facilities in the short to medium term
Enhance their leadership position in the community.
As part of our work to help Moreland get on track for zero carbon emissions by 2025 MEFL’s Zero Carbon Evolution team have been working with Moreland City Council to make it possible for businesses (both building owners and tenants) to install solar at no upfront cost.
In September Moreland City Council approved a key tool – Environmental Upgrade Agreements (EUAs). These are a council-based funding mechanism that has been developed to enable businesses to borrow money at lower interest rates for upgrades that improve the environmental performance of the building.
In past issues we have looked at various battery storage technologies. Recently we have received some questions about the broader topic of battery storage as it affects householders. In this article, we explore the concept of battery storage and the key considerations householders and businesses need to make when deciding on its suitability and type.
Currently, many Australian households pay 20-30 cents per kWh (note: kWh is a unit of energy) of electricity, and receive 5-7 cents per kWh, both depending on their retailer. Some early adopters of solar systems may still be receiving the ‘premium’ 60 cents per kWh Feed in Tariff rate for excess renewable energy exported to the grid.
Over recent months we’ve looked at various small-scale battery systems that are suitable for domestic use. This time we’re going large-scale and looking at Concentrated Solar Thermal power (CST) – a method of generating electricity that also enables solar energy to be stored in the form of heat. You’re not likely to have one of these systems on your roof any time soon, but CST has huge potential for large-scale generation and storage.
How it works
A CST power station typically consists of an array of sun tracking mirrors (‘heliostats’) that concentrate sunlight by focusing it onto a target at the top of a tower. Some towers heat water directly to create steam to drive turbines, while others heat molten salt. Molten salt towers work by pumping ‘cold’ salt (about 280°C) up to the top of the tower where it is heated, and then it is pumped back down the tower for storage or immediate use. The advantage of molten salt is that the energy from the heat can be stored and used at a later time, or released immediately into a heat exchanger that produces steam to power a standard steam turbine. The molten salt has a 30+ year life span and can be repurposed as a high grade fertiliser.
Community groups in the City of Moreland are saving money and carbon emissions through an innovative solar pilot program.
As part of the Zero Carbon Evolution strategy, Positive Charge has been working with Moreland City Council to pilot an innovative funding mechanism that enables community groups who rent their premises from Council to install solar panels.
Currently households with solar panels receive a flat rate of only 5c per kilowatt-hour for electricity they feed in to the grid. The Victorian Essential Services Commission is currently reviewing the feed-in tariff system. The Commission has proposed that feed-in tariffs should reflect the broader economic, environmental and social benefits of solar.
Under the proposed new system, feed-in tariffs would no longer be a fixed flat rate but would vary depending on the time of day (i.e. peak, shoulder, and off-peak periods). Tariffs would include a Critical Peak Payment and a payment for Avoided Greenhouse Gas Emissions. These changes could add up to a doubling of the feed-in tariff from next year, perhaps even more. Whether or not the proposed new tariff system is adopted next year will be a political decision.