South Australia retirement village to be powered by renewable microgrid

A South Australian town on the east coast of the Eyre Peninsula is set to host the development of an energy self-sufficient retirement village, that will be powered by a renewable energy micro-grid made up of solar and storage.
According to a tender document released this week by project developer Breathe, the proposed “Breathe Neighbourhood” in Tumby Bay will incorporate 150kW of solar PV distributed across 33 buildings, and 200kWh of electrical storage using the “latest technology batteries”.
The project’s goal, according to company founder Damian Modra, is for the village to achieve self-sufficiency from renewable energy sources, with excess supply in the summer months reducing peak demand impacts in the local electricity network.
To this end, the University of South Australia will be working on the project along with Breathe, as part of a PhD scholarship set up through the Research Node for Low Carbon Living.
The scholarship, valued at $100,000, will be used to map the energy and other needs of retirees and match them with affordable energy efficient architecture, solar energy and energy storage technologies.
The ultimate aim of the UniSA research project is to develop a template for future sustainable retirement villages and demonstrate the value of renewable energy solutions.
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In this way, the development will also serve as what Modra describes as a “living laboratory”, for ongoing research into low-carbon housing development, via an interactive display installed in the Breathe Community Centre.
“We envisage a large number of school groups, developers, local councils, policy makers, media and other interested parties, will request to visit and understand what we will achieve at Breathe,” said Modra.
“The facility will enable us to better showcase the vision, describe the marriage of renewable energy and energy storage technologies, and demonstrate the ongoing performance of the village.”
Modra – whose family business, Modra’s Apartments, owns the Tumby Bay site where the project is being developed – says the retirement village’s residents will not be charged for their energy usage, but will have access to demand management software that will display their consumption patterns to compare with other residents, and to encourage energy conservation at times of low generation.
The village will also incorporate passive solar low-energy design, high performance building materials and solar thermal water heating.

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