The Victoria mansion leading the exodus off the grid

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Ever get the idea that the quitting the grid was reserved for low energy users, austere consumers or those unable to connect? Think again.

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One Step Off The Grid

Ever get the idea that the decision to quit the grid – or not to connect – was reserved for low energy users, austere consumers or those with no possibility of connection?

Think again. Owners of ever large mansions with extraordinarily high levels of daily consumption are also deciding to cut the link to the grid – some times at phenomenal cost approaching half a million dollars.

Take this property picture  above – showing the main house and nearby buildings, and a plan of its rooftop solar (not the actual installation, you can see that below).

The property – in the Yarra Valley just an hour’s drive from Melbourne – belongs to a businessman who had enough of near weekly outages from faults in the local network, and from the soaring cost of electricity.

The property’s average daily consumption was nearly 200kWh – or around $70 a day, which makes for an eyewatering amount over the year.

After consulting the likes of energy expert Glen Morris, of SolarQuip, and instaler Jerry Robinson, from The Green House Effect, that daily consumption has been clipped to around 100kW, and the property is now looking after its own energy needs.

It has installed 46kW of rooftop solar, filling every available space on sheds and car ports, and installed 300kWh of lead acid battery storage. Perhaps heroically, given the onset of Victoria’s winter, the owners has decided not to go with a back-up generator.

“We told him he should, but he said he would tough it out,” Morris says. “We’ll see what happens over winter. Now he knows he has finite reserve, so his consumption is falling further.”

Morris made a presentation of the installation at the recent Smart Energy Conference, in a discussion of correct sizing for batteries – both on and off grid.

The green line above shows energy generated by the solar system, the red line the amount consumed, and the shaded red section represents the accumulated total of consumption each day. Yellow is the state of charge of the battery.

Robinson says the owner has been thinking about the exit from the grid for around  years. The owner uses a lot of electricity for the pool, heating etc.

But he plans to also get an electric vehicle – which will effectively be solar powered because for nine months of the year there will be more than enough excess power from the solar panels at its current capacity.

“Why wouldn’t you, he’s going to generate a ridiculous amount of power – on average 160kWh a day over the year. There will be a lot left over to go in the car.” Except for those last three months.

Robinson says big consumers are looking increasingly at off-grid options, or at least trying to match aggregate demand with their own production.

A few years ago he did an installation in Eaglemont, another house with 100kWh average daily consumption, to help power the wine room, the heated floors, the pool etc.

“They spent $100,000 on a three phase lithium battery with 18kW solar panels – that’s all we could fit on her roof. That’s what I call greening power because they could.

“Whatever you want you can have it now.”

his article was originally published on RenewEconomy’s sister site, One Step Off The Grid, which focuses on customer experience with distributed generation. To sign up to One Step’s free weekly newsletter, please click here.

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10 Comments
  1. George Darroch 10 months ago

    8.3 kWh/h on average. Goodness. I’m glad that they were able to halve that and then use solar to cover the rest.

    Here’s a question for those with knowledge of such things: are consumers with money going for higher efficiency panels which maximise output from a given roof area? While most of us have to count the pennies, those constraints don’t apply to everyone.

  2. Keiran 10 months ago

    On average they have 60kWh/day spare. At a FiT of 9.9c/kWh (victorian rate for 2018/19), that would be about $2000 per year they’re missing. Significantly more than their supply charge. Plus they could’ve spent way less on batteries, while still ensuring they had enough capacity to get through a blackout. Plus they’d be contributing 60kWh/day of green energy to the NEM, reducing the need for fossil fuels generation elsewhere. Essentially, this was a stupid decision by someone cutting off their nose to spite their face.

    • DJR96 10 months ago

      No, it is forward planning. As stated the owner intends to get an EV, which will use most of that ‘excess’. A few trips to the CBD each week will not only use that power but also avoided buying petrol for the car too.

      • Keiran 10 months ago

        So in the mean time export renewable energy to the grid, get paid for it (more than you pay to connect to said grid), and prevent fossil fuels being burnt for the rest of us? Also, unless he’s planning to drive the EV significantly more in summer, he’ll still have massive excess renewable generation in summer.

    • Brunel 10 months ago

      He can recoup some of the money by running tours to show people the massive solar setup. 😉

      Who knows what line rental costs if it is a mansion using 100-200 kWh/day.

      A normal house may use 10-30 kWh per day and pay $1/day line rental.

      • Keiran 10 months ago

        Unlikely that he would have ever been a heavy electricity user with significantly higher supply charges, that’s normally for sites using over 100MWh a year, even with his previous high consumption he’d have used ~70MWh/year.

    • George Darroch 10 months ago

      I suspect this was a person who has enough money not to care. And I fully support that decision.

      (And as others have noted, the EV will soak much of the excess, and the rest is an insurance policy that sits alongside the batteries.)

      • Keiran 10 months ago

        EV won’t soak up that excess. That excess will be seasonal, unless the EV driving will be seasonal, there will still be massive excess generation available in summer.

    • Finn Peacock 10 months ago

      Amen brother.

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