7. Recommendations

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.

7.1.9.     End-of-Grid

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.