Increasing the uptake of renewable energy in East Gippsland Shire in a way that maximises local benefits is certainly not a trivial task. A key aim is to create an environment where local people and businesses wish to invest in renewable energy, energy efficiency and enabling technologies. EGSC has a key role to play, primarily as a facilitator, but also by leading the way through installing solar PV on their own buildings – which they are currently in the process of doing.
Based on the availability of renewable energy resources, the vast majority of renewable generation will be from solar PV, which can be located throughout the distribution network. Energy efficiency and demand side management are very important because they can reduce electricity use, reduce demand at peak times, and reduce demand at times of low local renewable energy generation. Vice versa, they can shift demand to times of solar PV generation, maximising the use of local renewable resources.
The direct employment59 in PV installation businesses can be measured in job years/MW PV
installed. In Australia we estimate this to be about 20 jobyears/MW, which means that to install 1
MW PV would employ 20 people for 1 year.60 In East Gippsland this could be achieved through the installation of two hundred 5kW systems (for example through a solar bulk buy) or ten 100 kW systems (for example facilitated through the Multi-site Feasibility Study approach). It could also occur through a single large-scale ground-mounted PV system, in which case the employment would most likely be slightly less.
In addition, every 1 MW of solar PV installed in East Gippsland would generate about 1.15
GWh of renewable electricity each year, which would avoid the release of about 1,150 tonnes/year of greenhouse gases (this would have been over 1,400 tonnes/year when Hazelwood was operating). Further, this would avoid about $85,000 leaving East Gippsland each year when people pay their bills – for electricity to be generated outside the area.
By its very nature, renewable energy lends itself to smaller-scale projects that can be distributed throughout, and owned by, the community. This means it is important that there is community buy-in to the process – which EGSC has already committed to. There are also significant benefits for business to invest in renewable energy, particularly in larger premises that have high energy costs, and opportunities for business to support community-owned projects.
The following lists the major recommendations from this report. They are not listed in order of importance, but in the order in which they appear in this report. The prioritisation exercise used to
rank these recommendations is described in a separate Prioritisation Report.
59 Direct employment refers to those working directly for PV companies supplying, selling, installing or maintaining PV systems. There is also indirect employment, including legal and financial support services, general transport, government regulators, etc.
60 Based on IRENA, 2016, ‘Renewable Energy and Jobs, Annual Review 2016’, International Renewable Energy
7.1.1. Energy Info Hubs
EGSC could consider further developing their ‘Energy Use and Savings’ website into a more comprehensive Online Energy Info Hub that pulls together, screens, and provides access to reliable information and tools that are most relevant to East Gippsland Shire. It could also ink to online tools such as the Solar Potential Tool and the Sunulator. Ideally, a shop front drop-in centre could be established. Energy assessors could be established to conduct home energy audits, and they could even operate from the drop-in centre. These and other ideas for community engagement are discussed in Section 6.1.1 and 6.1.2.
7.1.2. Solar bulk buy
EGSC could coordinate a solar bulk buy according to the process outlined in Section 6.3.1. It should be run in close consultation with an organisation such as MASH, use local installers, provide a community benefit, and could include batteries and SWHs.
7.1.3. Solar $avers
EGSC could pursue its current proposal to participate in the state-wide Solar $avers program. Although they have been unable to include local installers in the current program, it can be duplicated with local installers at a later date.
7.1.4. Landlord/tenant agreements
EGSC could provide information on the different approaches whereby landlords can install solar and receive payment from their tenants so that both benefit.
7.1.5. Local industry
EGSC could coordinate a two-stage process to assist businesses obtain solar – see Section
6.3.2. The first stage would involve a Multi-site Feasibility Study, which is a high level assessment of the viability of solar. The second stage would involve a call for tenders for installers and an assessment of those tenders, then quality assurance of the completed installations.
7.1.6. Community organisations
EGSC and DELWP could develop a publicly available transparent process that tenants are required to go through if they wish to install solar PV - see Section 6.3.2. This should include some form of assurance that the lease term would be long enough to pay off the solar system. The subsequent process to assess then install solar would be the same as for the Commercial Businesses above.
EGSC could contact the coordinator of the ‘Solar my School’ program that is being run jointly by Waverly, Randwick and Woollahra councils, and models a similar program for local primary schools.
7.1.8. Large-scale solar
EGSC could facilitate the development of large-scale solar projects as described in Section 6.3.3. This Section also described how EGSC could be more proactive through a first-stage assessment of options (as for the commercial sector), resulting in a ‘raster map’, which provides a visual representation of the suitability of different areas for large-scale PV, and an estimate of the associated costs.
EGSC could facilitate the different stakeholders that may be interested in developing end-of-grid solar systems. In the example provided in Section 6.3.4, AusNet could own a battery to manage short-term supply interruptions, the community could own/operate a solar PV system, then East Gippsland Water could both provide the land at the local water treatment facility and purchase the electricity.
7.1.10. Community-Owned Renewable Energy
EGSC could facilitate the development of community-owned renewable energy projects in all the above proposals, as detailed in Section 6.3.5. For all but the large-scale solar projects, this would most likely use the RePower Shoalhaven model, and ideally be with their direct assistance. For large-scale solar, either a cornerstone investor or an unlisted public company limited by shares or a cooperative structure could be used.