MEFL actively reaches out to households, businesses and community organisations to encourage the development and uptake of sustainable energy solutions, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We facilitate access to expertise, and sustainable energy products and services to support the community to take action. Community engagement is an important way to achieve a better-informed community, and has the potential to increase the number of local sustainable energy advocates.
One of the most common arguments against renewable energy (particularly solar) is its inability to provide base load generation. Here Comes the Sun sought to address this issue by investigating the viability of microgrids. This means that small communities can install solar arrays with excess generating capacity and store any excess generation in batteries. The stored electricity can be used when the community’s solar arrays are not generating enough energy to meet its needs.
The final report is available on the ARENA website.(PDF, 2.7MB)
The Coalition for Community Energy (C4CE) released the Guide to Community-Owned Renewable Energy for Victorians in 2015. MEFL contributed to the Guide’s development, along with Embark, Community Power Agency and the Alternative Technology Association.
Developed specifically for the Victorian context, the work was funded by the Victorian Government. It is both a resource for community groups that are considering a renewable energy project and those that are already in the process of establishing a project. The Guide consolidates existing knowledge and resources and provides links to further information and advice. It provides practical pointers on critical commercial, technical, governance and regulatory aspects of renewable energy projects, including a wealth of useful information on identifying an appropriate business model, selecting the most suitable technology and managing a project.
MEFL played a key role in the delivery of Merri Community Health Services CEEP grant through being their technical advisors throughout the project. The CEEP grant (Community Energy Efficiency Program, delivered by the federal Department of Primary Industries) facilitated the installation of a new HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system, new ducting and new lighting infrastructure.
The project was delivered in conjunction with some building envelope modifications, and overall resulted in a dramatic improvement in the energy efficiency to the site (almost 30% reduction in energy consumption) in addition to improved comfort for staff and patients. The overall figures show a $5,878 reduction in energy costs, with a 16,219 kWh/year in energy savings for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, and 14,080 kWh/year in savings on lighting.
We liaised between all of the stakeholders including architects, installers and MCHS staff to ensure that the energy efficiency and occupant amenity delivered through the project was as high as possible. MEFL also delivered a range of engagements to improve awareness and understanding of the impacts of the upgrade and sustainability in general, through workshops, briefing sessions and documentation such as pamphlets and website content.
MEFL managed the delivery of the Victorian Government Sustainability Fund project Delivering Clean Energy Solutions (DCES). The project provided bundled energy products and services to residents across the northern suburbs of Melbourne (The region covered by the
Northern Alliance for Greenhouse Action).
Solar panels and solar hot water systems were available through DCES, along with additional lower cost efficiency options throughout the year.
The project built on our experience of community bulk buys and resulted in a business model for delivering energy services. It developed a social marketing strategy to facilitate the rapid adoption of clean energy solutions into the mainstream community.
DCES emerged from NAGA’s Towards Zero Net Emissions Action Plan and was a partnership with NAGA, Manningham, Darebin, Melbourne and Nillumbik Councils and the Yarra Energy Foundation.
MEFL has partnered with the Queensland Council of Social Services (QCOSS) and Multicultural Development Association (MDA) to deliver Bright Actions, a Low Income Energy Efficiency Program (LIEEP) project designed to improve the lives of people from a refugee background. The project is based around increased knowledge of energy efficiency practices and improved understanding of the financial options and impacts of the energy and appliance choices people make.