RACV powers up

Beachside resort with solar panels on roof. Photo: Ash Hughes

RACV

Posted December 02, 2020


RACV is investing in the power of renewable energy as part of its commitment to a clean energy future.

As the government places energy efficiency at the centre of its 2020 budget, with incentives encouraging households and businesses to harness the cost-saving benefits of renewable power, RACV has quietly been doing just that.

Over the past two years, RACV has rolled out an ambitious energy-efficiency plan, installing more than 5500 rooftop solar panels across its resorts, club facilities and offices, switching to LED lighting and upgrading to energy-efficient air-conditioning systems. The program, which also includes a new 250 kilowatt-hour battery at RACV’s Torquay Resort, has lowered the company’s carbon emissions by an estimated 5000 tonnes a year – the equivalent of taking more than 1600 cars off the road.

Complementing these initiatives, a contract with Snowy Hydro energy distributor Red Energy to supply RACV’s remaining electricity needs means RACV’s offices and leisure properties are now entirely powered by renewable energy. 

RACV’s managing director and chief executive Neil Taylor explains it’s all part of the company’s objective to support a clean energy future. “We are passionate about clean energy and recognise that our members also want to lower their carbon emissions. We want to make it easier for people to achieve that,” Neil says.

To this end, in December last year RACV acquired one of Australia’s largest solar system installers, Gippsland Solar, merging the 10-year-old Latrobe Valley business with its existing solar operations under the RACV Solar name. Led by Gippsland Solar founder Andy McCarthy, the merged solar business has grown rapidly in the past 12 months, quadrupling the size of its Melbourne warehouse, doubling the number of installations to 40 to 50 a week and expanding across Victoria and beyond. 

RACV installed a 1.4-megawatt solar system at Latrobe Regional Hospital in Traralgon. Photo: Ash Hughes
With RACV’s support, Chargefox is building a chain of 22 fast-charging EV stations around Australia. Photo: Ash Hughes

RACV Solar has installed several landmark projects in 2020, including a 1.4-megawatt system at Latrobe Regional Hospital in Traralgon, the largest solar installation at any Australian hospital, and installing more than two megawatts of solar across multiple McKenzie Aged Care properties in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. But Andy says what he is most proud of are the dozen or so solar and battery installations the company has donated to regional not-for-profit organisations impacted by last summer’s bushfires.  

While some observers might wonder why RACV, traditionally known for advocating for road safety and motoring interests, is now championing renewable power, Andy says it makes perfect sense given the company’s purpose – to improve the lives of all Victorians. “Using renewable energy, solar and battery storage to make power bills cheaper and make energy supply more resilient for Victorians is a significant way to contribute to that goal.” 

“Energy resilience is at the heart of it. It’s one tangible, measurable thing we can do now to improve people’s lifestyles, reduce their electricity costs and, at the same time, improve the environment and create jobs. It’s a win-win across the board.”

Solar plans on rooftop of beach resort

Solar panels helping to power RACV's Inverloch Resort. Photo: Ash Hughes


 

The expanding solar business and energy-efficiency works program complement RACV’s long-standing work advocating for electric vehicles, as well as its significant investment in the Chargefox ultra-rapid electric vehicle charging network. With RACV’s support, Chargefox is building a chain of 22 fast-charging EV stations around Australia, including seven in Victoria. The ultra-rapid chargers, including one installed last year at RACV’s Torquay Resort, can deliver power for up to 400 kilometres’ range in 15 minutes, making electric-powered day and weekend trips across Victoria easy.

The Torquay chargers are powered by an onsite 250kVA/270kWh battery, connected to the resort’s rooftop solar system. This maximises the amount of solar energy that can be used to power both the resort and the EV chargers, even after dark, explains Andy.

As RACV looks towards an electrified future powered by renewables, it is also excited about the development of other new clean energy technologies, such as bi-directional charging. Although the technology is still in its infancy in Australia and has yet to receive regulatory approval, the latest Nissan Leaf electric vehicle features two-way charging functionality that enables it to double as a battery that can store electricity generated by solar during the day, which can then be used to power the home at night. “It has the potential to form a clean-energy circle,” explains Neil Taylor. “Solar energy generated from rooftop solar powers an electric car which also stores the energy and becomes a battery source for the house, or the electricity grid in times of need.”

RACV is committed to a clean-energy future and supporting its members with cost-efficient solutions for renewable energy.


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