Black coal museum now powered by solar and battery storage

A solar and battery storage system built to power a coal mine museum in the coastal Victorian town of Wonthaggi has been officially launched, as a living demonstration of Australia’s energy transition.

The community-driven Old Energy – New Energy project has completed the installation of 91kW of solar PV and 41kWh of battery storage at the former State Coal Mine which is now a popular tourist site run by Parks Victoria.

State energy minister Lily D’ambrosio, who attended the opening, said the project – which received $241,000 in funding from the Labor government’s New Energy Jobs Fund – served both functional and educational purposes.

Not only would the solar and battery system power the site, she said, but it would demonstrate how renewable energy, energy efficiency and new technology were changing the game.

“It’s great to see a facility that was once used to mine coal now leading the way when it comes to renewable energy in tourism,” D’Ambrosio said.

“We want to see more sites like this one transition to renewables – we’re delivering the investment needed to support that transition.”

The black coal mine is located in Wonthaggi and was operational up until 1968. It now claims to be the only historic coal mine experience in the Southern Hemisphere to offer tourists a “journey back in time” to see what life was like working in a coal mine in the 1900s.

The solar and battery storage will largely be used to help pump up to 100,000 litres of water a day at the site, and to power the Visitor Centre and other community facilities.

As we reported here, the not-for-profit Energy Innovation Co-operative that has led the project has been working since 2009 to develop and deliver community owned renewable energy projects in the region.

The Wonthaggi State Coal Mine project, which also had the backing of the Bass Coast Shire Council, has been a particular highlight.

“Locals and visitors alike will be able to see in it action, reducing carbon emissions by more than 150,000kg annually,” said Co-op chair Moragh Mackay at the time.

“Getting battery technology up and running locally is especially of interest to many people,” she said.

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