Victorian town’s bid to go 100% solar wins grant to “supersize” battery

TRY members, Matthew Helen Haines MP with TRY members Charles-Jones, Kim McConchie and Donna Jones. Source: TRY

The north-eastern Victorian town of Yackandandah has moved another step closer to its goal of sourcing 100 per cent renewable energy by 2022, after winning state government backing to “supersize” its community battery.

Roughly $171,000 was awarded to the town’s community solar and storage project on Wednesday, as part of more than $1 million in grants handed out by the Labor Andrews government in Round five of its New Energy Jobs Fund.

Juliette Milbank from Totally Renewable Yackandandah, the community group driving the town’s shift to solar and storage, said the grant would boost the proposed battery’s capacity to 274kWh – enough to power up to 40 average households overnight.

TRY and Indigo Power – a relatively new energy company established with the aim of building a network of community solar and storage hubs across regional Victoria – had already raised $250,000 towards the project, and the government money would now “get the project built,” Milbank said.

“This is a vital step to getting the town of Yackandandah toward its 100% target. We know that not only do we need more solar, but also storage to ensure the community has access to clean energy at all times,” she said in a statement on Wednesday.

The progress of the TRY project – which last October saw 10 public buildings flick the switch to solar – has also attracted the support of local grid operator Ausnet, which is interested in how to manage the shift to distributed energy.

Ausnet and its offshoot Mondo – a subsidiary launched to help Victorian regional communities shift to renewables – previously won a Clean Energy Council innovation award for the work in Yackandandah, and an earlier Victoria government grant contributed $104,000 from the Renewable Communities Program to match 84,000 raised locally.

“We are excited to work with TRY to get this flagship project off the ground. This will be among the first community solar and battery projects of its kind in Australia, and thanks to support from the community and the Victorian government it will now become a reality,” said Indigo Power managing director, Ben McGowan on Wednesday.

“This project will ensure the almost 150 members of the Yackandandah Hub have access to clean power when the sun isn’t shining, during the early evening rush and through the night.

“We are looking forward to working with other hubs across the region to build generation and power more communities with local clean energy.”

Alongside the Yackandandah battery project, grant recipients included a community solar farm in Bendigo, a revolving fund for community-led renewable energy for the Gippsland community, and a solar electricity system for the Wangaratta Lawn Tennis Club.

Victorian energy and climate minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the grants would support 13 community-owned renewable energy projects, in total, that were aligned with the Regional Renewable Energy Roadmaps released in May.

“Driving down emissions and promoting renewable energy is something everyone can do,” D’Ambrosio said on Wednesday in a separate statement.

“These grants will give local communities the opportunity to harness clean energy technology to reduce emissions, build a local renewable energy economy and create local jobs.”

For a full list of successful recipients or more information on the Fund, visit energy.vic.gov.au/new-energy-technologies.

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