Virtual energy network a first for metro council and local residents


Council 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, who specialises in the design, delivery and operation of solar-energy generation and storage assets.

The VEN will generate almost 4 megawatts of solar power, enabling Council to share energy from buildings generating excess electricity with other buildings that require more. In other words, energy goes where it is needed, not just where it is generated.

The solar energy system will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 4,000 tonnes per annum, or up to 55 per cent of Council’s direct emissions, which is equivalent to taking almost 600 homes off the grid.

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 has commenced this month.

The project will generate substantial year on year savings for the Council by reducing energy costs, which is money that Council can put back into community services and programs. The project will pay for itself within nine years, which is similar to a residential solar installation.

Importantly, this is 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.

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