A solar electricity system will soon be operating on the roof of the Bucketts Way Neighbourhood Centre (BWNG), funded by Energise Gloucester as its first community energy project.
The system will save BWNG about 80 percent of its electricity costs over three years.
Energise Gloucester (EG) has received $22,000 in non-interest loans from members of the community and a $10,000 grant from electricity retailer, PowerShop to fund the project.
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BWNG will buy the electricity generated by the photovoltaic (PV) panels from the system owned and operated by EG. In about three years, BWNG will have paid back the cost of the project, own the system and the electricity generated will be free. At this time, the community investors will have their loans repaid.
This is a model Energise Gloucester is interested in developing for other organisations around the district. It is also similar to other projects being operated by other community energy groups around Australia.
Some of these projects do pay interest on the money lent by community members and Energise Gloucester is looking at the feasibility of this for other sites around town.
The system on BWNG contains 120 PV panels with a capacity to generate 32.4 kilowatt-hours (kW), meaning the total system will generate nearly 40,000 kW hours of electricity in an average year of sunshine. The system will not generate all of the electricity used by BWNG, so it’ll still be purchasing some from the grid when the sun is not shining. This is factored into the calculations and a smart meter accounts for purchases of electricity from the grid, as well as the sale of excess back to the grid. At this stage there is no battery storage but this can be considered for further development.
Energise Gloucester and the BWNG are looking at other projects in 2018 to help people understand and manage their household energy use and costs.
The two organisations thank the community members who have contributed financially to this project and hope that the model can be repeated elsewhere in the Gloucester.