Energy Use Reduction
Many of the tips for reducing energy emissions at home through building design, appliance efficiency, etc and reducing transport energy are also applicable to community groups that own or manage their own facilities and appliances.
Alpine Shire Council Community Grants Program
Alpine Shire Council Community Grants are an annual funding opportunity provided to assist community groups in various areas, including environmental sustainability.
Sustainability Victoria Grants and Funding
Sustainability Victoria regularly have a number of community and social enterprise grants available in renewable energy as well as circular economy, waste etc. For the latest grant opportunities visit Sustainability Victorian Grants and Funding.
Renewable Energy Generation and Storage
Regardless of how efficient a home or vehicle is; there is always a need for electricity supply either through on-site generation such as solar PV, or electricity purchased from the grid.
Electricity Generation and Storage
Electricity generated at home, for example through rooftop solar PV, leads to reduced grid electricity use and therefore reduced electricity bills; with the added benefit of being 100% renewable and generating zero GHG emissions. Battery storage can also be beneficial and is a more and more widely adopted solution to reducing domestic reliance on grid electricity.
To ensure the highest standard of products, workmanship and system sizing advice when purchasing rooftop solar PV arrays for your home or business, and to be eligible for any Solar Victoria rebates, be sure to check that you choose a Solar Victoria Authorised Solar Provider using Solar Victoria approved products.
Funding and Rebate Opportunities
Victorian Government Rebates
The Victorian Government provides rebates to reduce the cost of installing solar generation and storage technology through a number of programs; details of these programs can be found on the Solar Victoria website.
Community Group Zero-interest Loans
CORENA is a not-for-profit organisation providing zero-interest loans for energy efficiency improvement projects for community organisations.
Purchasing Green Power
Another way for homeowners and tenants to reduce their carbon footprint, with the added bonus of no on-site infrastructure requirements and therefore no upfront cost, is to purchase 100% renewable electricity. Many electricity retailers in Australia offer renewable electricity contracts, for a list of Australian Government approved 100% renewable energy providers see the GreenPower Accredited provider list.
Another useful tool to aid the decision in switching to a green electricity provider is Greenpeace’s Green Electricity Guide. The guide highly ranks those providers bringing more renewable energy to Australia’s electricity system, while big climate polluters holding Australia back from achieving a renewable energy future are ranked poorly.
Note that a number of smaller energy retailers are subsidiaries or partners of providers on the approved list, be sure to do your research before ruling out small community owned renewable energy retailers, also known as Community Energy Networks.
Community energy is a space that is rapidly growing across Australia and is intended to maximise renewable energy production and use, in turn reducing reliance on electricity generated from fossil fuels, reduce energy inequality, and keep the energy market (and therefore profits) local. The Hume Region is very active in Community Energy and has a vast network of Community Energy groups and upcoming opportunities, outlined in this Energy Victoria Roadmap. To get involved refer to the Hume Community Power Hub.
Excess energy generated from rooftop solar can be bought by and stored in community batteries for shared use during times of peak demand and low generation. This provides an overall more efficient solution to grid congestion, negates the personal investment in home battery storage, while still resulting in long term electricity bill savings. The ABC has an easy to understand article on localised energy storage.
Indigo Power are utilising funding from the Federal Government’s Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund for the Aggregated Community-Scale Battery Storage in North East Victoria feasibility study. This study will follow on from the recent successful launch of the Yackandandah community battery to identify a further 4 sites for community-scale batteries across North East Victoria, focussing on Bright, Beechworth, Mt Beauty and the Towong Shire. This project is set to kick off in the second half of 2022. More information can be found here:
Virtual Power Plants
A virtual power plant is the source of the energy supplying the community energy network; the excess energy from residents or business with on-site solar generation and storage is fed into the grid and shared to power the community energy network. There are often funding opportunities for building owners wishing to install solar generation and/or storage to participate in Virtual Power Plants. There are a number of VPP programs across Victoria and in the Hume region, many of which are approved by Solar Victoria and eligible for battery purchase rebates.
Microgrids are similar to VPP’s except that they are located within a geographical boundary and are islandable which means they can go off-grid to keep electricity available locally when the wider grid goes down. This enhances the resilience of the network to disasters such as bushfires and storm events that can mean power loss to regions. Refer to this Energy Victoria Microgrid Factsheet for further information.