This section describes the different approaches or ‘business models’ that can be used to drive uptake of renewable energy technologies. The emphasis of this report is on identifying new business opportunities that the community can develop. This means they should be both commercially available and readily deployable – meaning they shouldn’t require long periods of renewable energy resource assessment (eg. wind monitoring, tidal flow analysis), followed by pre-feasibility and feasibility studies etc. Solar PV also has very short payback times (around 5 years for residential, and 4 to 9 years for commercial-scale), and has no moving parts and so is very reliable and requires very little maintenance. As a result, solar PV and solar water heaters were assumed to be the predominant technologies, although there will of course be some uptake of small-scale wind and small-scale hydro – and many of the business models and programs discussed in this report could be applied to these technologies also.
Bioenergy is not addressed in detail here because East Gippsland Water (EGW) is already pursuing this option, and are best placed to take it forward. EGW currently operate a combined heat and power system running on methane generated from the anaerobic digester at the Bairnsdale Wastewater Treatment Plant, and are trialling adding food waste – which increased methane production significantly. EGW’s intention is to develop a business case for expansion of food waste co-digestion on a regional scale in partnership with regional food manufacturing bodies. Co-digestion products may include electricity, heat, carbon dioxide for greenhouses and compost.
There may be sufficient wind resource for large-scale wind in East Gippsland, especially inland, however as discussed in Section 6, these locations are not close enough to transmission lines with sufficient capacity. Thus, we assume only limited opportunities for small-scale wind.
Although the focus here is on renewable energy, it is always a good idea to try to incorporate the uptake of energy efficiency, because this can both reduce operating costs and any load reductions from energy efficiency also reduce the capital cost of the chosen renewable energy technology when it is sized to optimally match this reduced load.
Section 5 then draws on these options to propose specific examples of actions that EGSC
and the local community can undertake.