Geelong region set for solar power boost
A new project is using community buying power to fast-track solar uptake in the greater Geelong region.
A new community bulk-buy initiative, supported by RACV, aims to fast-track the uptake of solar and help Victoria reach its renewable energy targets.
The Geelong Community Solar Program will enable individual householders and businesses in the greater Geelong region to leverage the community’s bulk-buying power to access clean, affordable energy from quality solar and battery systems.
Covering an area of more 9000 square kilometres, with a combined population of 370,000 across Greater Geelong, Surf Coast, Colac Otway, Golden Plains and Queenscliffe council areas, it is Victoria’s largest community rooftop solar and battery project.
The Geelong Community Solar Program is predicted to reduce carbon emissions across the region by 4000 tonnes a year.
Community advocacy group Geelong Sustainability, which is leading the initiative, has chosen RACV and energy services provider Mondo to deliver the project. RACV will be responsible for designing and installing residential and business solar and battery systems, using local installation teams to support local jobs and the local economy.
This involvement continues RACV’s ongoing commitment to clean energy through its own solar business as well as extensive investment in energy-efficiency measures across RACV resorts, club facilities and offices. These measures, including rooftop solar and lighting and air-conditioning upgrades, have lowered RACV’s carbon emissions by an estimated 5000 tonnes a year, the equivalent of taking more than 1600 cars off the road.
RACV Solar’s chief executive officer Andy McCarthy says RACV recognises that many Victorians are concerned about the sustainability and cost efficiency of the current energy system.
“RACV is investing strongly in renewable energy solutions to help build resilience across regional Victoria,” he says. “We see the Geelong Community Solar Program as a commitment to help provide a safer, more sustainable and affordable future for the local communities in the region, while supporting local jobs and the economy.”
Geelong Sustainability president Vicki Perrett says as well as helping customers save on the upfront cost of buying a solar and battery system, the project also gives residents, holiday-home owners and businesses in the region confidence in getting the right high-quality system with good warranties from trusted suppliers. And by encouraging the uptake of solar, it will also help move Victoria closer to its renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030.
RACV is investing strongly in renewable energy solutions to help build resilience across regional Victoria.
A not-for-profit, independent organisation, Geelong Sustainability is running a series of information sessions across the region to help reduce confusion about switching to renewable energy and provide tailored consultations to suit individual needs. The aim, says Vicki, is to empower people in the community to start considering renewable energy and questioning how and when they use energy.
This latest program follows the success of previous solar bulk-buy projects, including a smaller initiative by Geelong Sustainability in 2018, which added 1.4 megawatts of solar and 1.5 megawatts of solar battery to the region. By contrast, the new program, which runs until 31 August this year, will deploy 2.5 megawatts of renewable energy across the region and is predicted to reduce emissions in the region by 4000 tonnes a year.
The program, which is supported by the G21 – Geelong Region Alliance representing the local councils and other organisations and community groups, will benefit the broader community as well as individual householders and businesses. For each system installed through the program, one solar panel will be donated towards the installation of a solar system on a local community facility. Up to five not-for-profit organisations will be selected by Geelong Sustainability to receive a donated system in collaboration with local program partners.
Jodie Hallam, Mondo’s general manager energy services, says the community is driving a transition to renewable energy. “Their desire to contribute to a sustainable future and to reduce costs for their homes and businesses is driving demand for more sustainable, innovative and resilient energy systems. We are delighted that Geelong Sustainability selected us along with RACV – consumers can be confident that together we will deliver the very best to the region.”
An average family home using around 20kWh of electricity per day could save around $1500 per year on their electricity bill with a 6.6kW solar system.
What does the program aim to do?
It is to fast-track the uptake of renewable energy in the region to help Victoria achieve its target of reducing emissions by 50 per cent by 2030, while giving homeowners and businesses affordable clean energy options to suit their needs.
How do I get involved?
Go to geelongcommunitysolar.com.au and register a quote or for a community or business information session in your area.
What areas are covered?
Households and businesses in the city of Greater Geelong, the Surf Coast, Colac Otway and Golden Plains shires, and the Borough of Queenscliffe.
I own a holiday house or a rental property in the region – can I take part?
Yes, the program is open to residents, businesses and holiday-house owners.
What will I save up front?
While the program aims to ensure home owners and businesses get quality solar and battery solutions with ongoing support from leading solar providers, customers who install solar as part of the program with get the benefit of leveraging the buying power of their community.
For a residential customer, this can be a saving of several hundred dollars off the normal price of a system, and in some cases more for larger residential solar and battery systems.
What can I save a year by installing solar?
An average family home using around 20kWh of electricity per day can save around $1500 per year on their electricity bill with a 6.6kW solar system. This usually means you can pay back the system cost in four or five years, but this varies depending on individual household power usage.
Can I get a state government rebate or an interest-free loan?
There is a federal government rebate for solar systems as well as the Victorian government’s rooftop solar and battery rebates, but you can apply only one of the state rebates, not both. The state rebates are available under the Solar Homes scheme run by Solar Victoria. Not everyone is eligible for the Victorian government rebates, but solar consultants from the program will explain how the rebates work and help you check your eligibility. You can also apply for an interest-free loan from Solar Victoria of up to $1850.