Solar powered bushfire recovery initiative launched in Victoria

Image: Facebook

A regional Victorian primary school destroyed in the bushfires of the 2019-2020 will be the first recipient of a newly launched disaster recovery initiative centred around renewable energy and led by REC Solar.

The initiative, called REConstruct, has been developed in conjunction with multiple program partners, including Fronius, SMA, SolarJuice, Sol Distribution, Tradezone and BayWa Australia.

The program will provide around 50 6.5kW solar systems, which are on offer to not-for-profit community organisations like schools, sporting clubs, community hubs, and emergency services being rebuilt after the fires.

“The Australian bushfires were a harsh reminder of the impact climate change is having on our environment,” said REC Solar director for Australia and New Zealand, Paul Scerri.

“Renewable, clean energy is integral to the bushfire recovery strategy so that Australians can work towards reducing greenhouse gases and the ongoing likelihood of more long, devastating bushfire seasons,” he said.

“By supplying our award-winning high-power solar panels, REC Solar is proud to be doing our part for bushfire affected areas and continuing to empower communities through renewable energy.”

The first successful applicant to the program is Clifton Creek Primary School – a tiny school of 14 students in East Gippsland that was completely destroyed in the bushfires in that region (see image above).

The school’s principal, Sue Paul, said the community was deep into the planning process for rebuilding and was thrilled that the new school would now be solar powered.

“This is completely in-line with the school’s commitment to sustainability, and will free up funds to spend on other educational priorities. It will also reduce our annual running costs – so the benefits will be long term,” Paul said.

“With all that is happening in the world, it’s easy to forget the ongoing impact of the bushfires on so many communities, and we applaud REC and its partners for this wonderful program.”

Scerri says that not-for-profit community organisations affected by the bushfires can apply for their own solar system by visiting the REConstruct website and lodging an application.

“Importantly, for the successful applicants, this initiative will reduce annual running costs, increase power independence from the grid, and contribute to the solution to the climate crisis,” he said.

This is not the first instance of renewable energy coming to the rescue of Australian bushfire victims, however. Earlier this year the Resilient Energy Collective was set up with the backing of billionaire software developer Mike Cannon-Brookes.

The Collective, which was also backed by Tesla, Australian solar company 5B, solar panel manufacturer Risen Energy, and inverter company Enphase, was unveiled in February as a quick and easy way to re-power communities cut off by the summer’s bushfires and storms.

With Cannon-Brookes supplying the initial capital for the project ($12 million), Tesla has contributed battery storage, and 5B has provided its pre-fabricated, easily deployed Maverick solar technology.

US-based Enphase Energy joined the effort a bit later, putting forward its IQ 7+ microinverters to assist with the rapid rollout of the Maverick solar and storage systems.

And China-based Risen added its muscle to the group off the back of its earlier collaboration with 5B, when it supplied its 400W Jaegar Plus series panels for an initial display and test site of the Maverick systems.

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