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Student co-op set to be one of Australia’s first multi-unit development to get battery and solar

Stucco residents
Stucco residents

A housing cooperative in Newtown, Sydney is set to become one of the first multi-unit residence in Australia to produce and store energy with a solar and battery storage system, according to the City of Sydney.

The council has funded the project with an environmental grant that will go towards the cost of the system being installed by the Stucco affordable student housing complex, a self-managed-and-owned housing co-op for University of Sydney students.

“At Stucco, we value action on climate change and strive to live sustainably,” Stucco resident Louis van Rensburg said.

“Including battery storage allows us to store power and use it when we want for lighting, computers and other domestic electrical equipment. It’s a great way to manage a flow of clean energy that will cover over two-thirds of our electricity use.”

Mr van Rensburg said the project helped to solve the issues surrounding sustainable energy in the multi-residential sector.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the council wanted Sydneysiders to get involved in tackling climate change.

“Offering grants like this allows us to work with enthusiastic members of our community to speed up cuts to carbon pollution,” Ms Moore said.

“Investing in innovative projects that use solar power and battery storage will help these technologies become more mainstream.”

But is it really the first such project?

A City of Sydney spokeswoman said there had been several searches to identify multi-residential apartments that had undertaken a similar project – the installation of solar and battery technology with a power purchase agreement to enable residential tenancy usage – but there appeared to be no others.

Mike Roberts, a renewable energy researcher at UNSW focused on multi-unit apartment buildings in Australia, prepared a report for 2015 Asia-Pacific Solar Research Conference and found no solar/battery/PPA examples.

Stucco also undertook an extensive desktop review and was unable to find any examples in Australia.

The City of Sydney said it had also had discussions with its broader networks, and had not been able to identify any similar projects.

“Based on this information it is highly unlikely a project such as this has been undertaken in Australia.”

WWF also scores grant

WWF Australia has also been offered funding to develop a guide for local businesses regarding group renewable energy purchases.

Monica Richter, WWF’s business and industry engagement manager – climate change, said the organisation had formed a renewable energy buyer’s forum for businesses with an interest in renewable energy but who were not able to install on their own site.

“The forum is the first of its kind in Australia to help create new business models for companies and other large energy users to increase their renewable energy purchasing,” Ms Richter said.

“There are many good reasons for companies to move towards a clean energy future. These include having better control over electricity consumption, particularly as electricity costs are likely to rise in the future. It’s also about being part of a movement towards a 100 per cent renewable energy future.”

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