Tesla batteries to help take Townsville Catholic Diocese 100% renewable

A north Queensland solar and storage project that has the blessing of the Pope will install just under 8MWh of Tesla battery storage, in a bid to power the Townsville Catholic Diocese with 100% renewables.

Queensland-based commercial solar business GEM Energy said late last week that it had won the tender to deliver the Tesla battery systems alongside a total of 5.1MW of solar across 27 sites owned by the Townsville Catholic Education Office.

The 10-year, $20 million-plus project aims to use a mix of behind-the-meter PV generation and storage, and through an off-take agreement with a renewable generator for their remaining balance of energy from the grid.

GEM said the Tesla batteries would also have smart management software installed, to operate as a virtual power plant with FCAS market participation from late 2020, creating a significant ongoing revenue stream.

With the solar, storage and FCAS revenues, the project is expected to deliver payback for some of the schools in periods of less than five years.

“This holistic strategy effectively hedges electricity costs for at least the next 10 years but more crucially, it will help break important environmental milestones,” said GEM Energy CEO Jack Hooper in a statement.

“Rethinking how energy is generated and procured shows real commitment to the messages in Laudato Si’, a key Catholic belief of a broader commitment to caring for our common home.”

Laudato Si is Pope Francis’ encyclical – or letter – sent in 2015 to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests – calling for “swift and unified global action” on climate change, including through the adoption of renewable energy.

According to GEM, the Townsville Catholic Diocese in 2017 received praise for their phase 1 solar scheme directly from the Vatican. This next phase, said Hooper, cemented their position as national leaders in this space.

“On a personal note,” he added, “it’s great to see organisations making decisions like this despite a global pandemic. As we have continued to do over the last few months, we’re confident of delivering this project safely and successfully through Covid-19.

“We can’t wait to get this project under way.”

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