Proof we can chew gum, share solar and cut costs at the same time

A heritage listed former chewing gum factory that is being born again as a “sustainable” inner-city Sydney apartment complex will use solar PV and behind the meter technology to supply residents with power at a cost of up to one-fifth below the retail market.
The project, which is now under construction by Stable Group in Rosebery, is one among a rapidly growing number of new and retrofitted residential developments in Australia to include cheap, clean and locally generated energy as matter of course – in this case, from a 54kW solar array on the apartment building’s roof.

But the key energy innovation at The Burcham is its embedded electricity network that supplies energy through a single ‘gate’ meter to the entire building, providing a way for residents to purchase energy at up to 20 per cent below the market’s lowest retail cost.
To achieve this, Burcham Energy, through its billing manager Energy Trade, uses the power of this bulk purchase, in conjunction with the rooftop solar array – which will generate 77,000kWh a year of electricity for the base building – to negotiate the cheapest rates with the large energy suppliers and in turn pass these savings to the individual apartments through the Body Corporate.
Schneider Electric, the engineers of the energy solution, says each of the building’s one, two and three-bedroom apartments is also equipped with its own meter and energy management systems to track and bill individual energy use, giving future residents “enhanced control over energy use – at any time, from anywhere.”
On the energy management front, residents can chose from a variety of Clipsal by Schneider Electric home automation options, ranging from from simple, entry-level products, through to complex systems that can do everything from dimming lights through to watering plants.
The apartment complex will also feature highly efficient LED lighting throughout, four electric car charging bays, hydronic heating and number plate recognition technology, capped off by a communal rooftop garden.
“The Burcham is a game-changing example of how connectivity is pushing the boundaries of comfort, style and sustainable living in the home,” said Ben Green, Schneider Electric’s Smart Space director.
As we have noted on One Step before, this sort of community energy sharing set up is becoming an increasingly popular selling point for new property developments in both regional and inner city Australia.
In regional New South Wales, for example, a project near Armidale – a joint venture between New England Solar and local real estate group Paragon Property Partners – offers buyers the chance to build their dream home from scratch in the northern Tablelands, and to become part owners of their own power company: a purpose-built embedded network through which to buy and sell the solar generated on the community’s rooftops – and stored in its batteries – peer to peer.
Elsewhere in Sydney, an eight-unit student housing co-operative in the suburb of Newtown has installed 30kW of rooftop solar and a 43.2kWh Enphase battery storage system, in a government-backed project by local installer Solaray Energy.

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