Victoria’s coal power hub, the Latrobe Valley, is set to host Australia’s “largest” renewable energy microgrid, after a $15 million solar and battery storage project proposed by a consortium of local companies was announced as the winner of a $3 million state government grant.
The Labor Andrews government said on Monday that a project led by SGSP Assets (Jemena) subsidiary, Ovida, had won the grant for the Latrobe Valley Microgrid Program, designed to cut energy bills for 750 small to medium sized businesses in the region.
The project – Solar Partnering Around Regional Communities – will deliver 7.5MW of solar PV and 1.5MWh of battery storage across potentially 75 sites (an estimated 10 businesses per microgrid), in partnership with shared solar tech start-up Allume Energy, the Moreland Energy Foundation and RMIT.
Perhaps most importantly, however, the SPARC project will target businesses that either cannot afford the upfront costs of solar, or are tenants, and so don’t own their own rooftops – allowing them to cut their electricity bills by up to $10,000 per year.
The push to extend the benefits of rooftop solar to business and residential tenants traditionally locked out of rooftop PV comes from what is essentially the same team behind a cutting edge shared solar project that was switched on in Melbourne in May this year.
That project installed a 7.2kW solar system on a mixed residential and retail building in the bay-side suburb of Highett, to deliver – using Allume Energy’s technology – cheap renewable power to five apartments, a baker, a hair salon, and an occupational therapist.
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