Over the last five to ten years the cost of renewable energy (RE) technologies, in particular solar photovoltaics (PV), has declined significantly. Solar PV is a modular technology, meaning it can be deployed at any scale, from smaller household systems commonly between 1 kW and 10 kW, through systems suitable for a local business, to large-scale ground-mounted systems that range from 100 kW to tens or even hundreds of MWs.
The suitability of PV for smaller systems has opened up opportunities for individuals and communities to generate their own electricity. More recently, the price of batteries has declined significantly, and there has been progress in the development of energy management systems, which allows PV, batteries and other technologies such as solar water heaters to be integrated into effective distributed energy systems.
Other renewable energy technologies such as wind, hydro, bioenergy, tidal and wave power have also seen advances, with wind and hydro available as smaller-scale options suitable for household and community distributed energy.
These technologies have a number of benefits beyond financial savings. They create local employment, which can occur directly when they are installed, as well as indirectly because less money leaves the community in the form of electricity bills – meaning that more money remains to circulate through the local economy, which creates additional employment.
They can also provide local resilience, where the integration of batteries can provide support to the electricity network during times of peak demand, and maintain power supplies in the event of loss of the network. This is not only more convenient but can be critical in times of emergency response.
1.1. This Report
Zero Emissions Noosa (ZEN) has received funding from the Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation for the project ‘Roadmap to Achieving 100% Renewable Energy for Noosa Biosphere’. The aim of this project is to identify the most efficient and cheapest mix of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures needed to eliminate all carbon dioxide emissions arising from electricity consumption in the Noosa Shire by 2026. This Report aims to form the foundation of ZEN’s project and is divided into the following Sections:
- Section 2 (Current Electricity Grid, Use & Solar) characterises the existing electricity grid and the total amount of electricity used in Noosa Shire as well as the current renewable energy generation in the region.
- Section 3 (Modelling Renewable Energy Technology Options) describes the modelling undertaken to characterise the possible mixes of electricity generation and energy efficiency required to achieve ZEN’s 100% renewable energy target by 2026.
- Section 4 (High Level Issues) then discusses issues that should be taken into consideration regarding: the additionality of Noosa’s renewable energy to legislated targets; whether the Federal renewable energy target reduces the amount of renewable generation required to reach 100%; which renewable energy generation can be claimed towards the 100% RE target; and whether the renewable energy systems be owned by the community within Noosa Shire.
- Section 5 (Business models) then discusses the range of business models and other approaches which may be relevant for increasing renewable energy in Noosa. These range from ways to drive uptake at the household level through to larger-scale options.
- Section 5 (What Can Noosa do?) then recommends specific actions that the local community and Noosa Council can undertake. After discussing how the provision of information can be used to drive uptake of both energy efficiency and renewable energy, it proposes specific options that can be used to enable uptake of residential-scale renewable energy, then commercial-scale, then large-scale and some opportunities for community ownership.
- Section 7 (Discussion & Recommendations) then concludes the report by summarising the main outcomes and actions suggested for Noosa.