Hobson Bay council chambers

Hobsons Bay City Council has taken a big step towards its net zero carbon ambitions with a large-scale roll out of its Virtual Power Plant (VPP) and the installation of new solar panels across more than 40 council-owned buildings.

The Melbourne council currently has a goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions for the council itself by 2020 and for the community by 2030.

The VPP is expected to generate almost 4MW of solar power, enabling the council to share energy from underutilising solar energy sites with those that require more.

The solar energy system will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by around 4000 tonnes per annum – or up to 55 per cent of the council’s direct emissions over the coming two years.

“In a first for a council in metro Melbourne, this is a bold and innovative way to deliver cutting-edge technology and generate real action in addressing the impacts of climate change,” said Cr Colleen Gates, Mayor of Hobsons Bay.

“Our solar project has been developed in response to the community feedback we received through our Hobsons Bay 2030 Community Vision.”

The project will generate substantial year-on-year savings for the council by reducing energy costs, which is money it can put back into the community in the form of services and programs.

“Importantly, this is a future-proofed project, with longer term opportunities for the community to participate in what will become a Hobsons Bay Community Solar network,” Gates said.

“This could enable anyone to opt-in to be a producer of energy, a user of energy, or both. Under this model, community cost savings will grow even further.”

The contract value and scope, as well as the details of the successful tenderer, will be announced once the contract has been finalised.

An extensive community consultation program will commence in the coming months to invite Hobsons Bay community members to have input into the design of the VPP model.

This work will help determine how the benefits are shared across the community.

“I’m really please that we will be able to share the benefits of this project with community groups, sports clubs and other tenants of our buildings – not only from a carbon emission reduction perspective, but also in helping them save costs,” Gates concluded.

“What is also exciting is that residents of Hobsons Bay will also have the opportunity to become part of the VPP.”

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