Draft Roadmap Report - Chapter 6

6.    WHAT CAN NOOSA DO?

Like Section 5, this section is also based on material from the report ‘Background Technical Study: Bright Futures Renewable Energy Project’ for East Gippsland Shire Council. However, it has been updated to reflect the latest options, and most importantly, has been altered to take into account the feedback from the community consultation process in Noosa. 

This Section identifies priority projects for Noosa drawn from Section 5, based on ITP’s expertise and feedback from consultation with the community. The proposed projects have been categorised into residential, commercial-scale, large-scale and community-owned. Because the provision of information and education is important across the board, we first briefly identify some key sources of information.


6.1.    Information & Education

Noosa Shire Council is well placed to be seen as a reliable source of information regarding renewable energy and energy efficiency. Council already has some information on it’s website that relates to its own operations, and some information on sustainable construction and some energy savings tips. The following outlines some further options that could be taken, either by Council or by Zero Emissions Noosa.

6.1.1.    Energy Efficiency

As identified in Section 3.1.2, increased uptake of energy efficiency can significantly reduce costs faced by customers and can help integrate renewables into customers’ load profiles. Energy efficiency and demand side management can also be used to shift and reduce evening loads – thereby increasing the level of local energy self-sufficiency. 
There is no shortage of actions that can be taken to reduce electricity use through energy efficiency, and potentially through demand-side management. The range of actions that can be taken is well documented on a range of websites and other reports – for example, see Table XI.

Table XI Some Sources of Information on Energy Efficiency Actions
Household general   
Energy Efficient Homes   
Household fridges & freezers    
Household A/C, pool pumps and water heaters   
Reduce Your Electricity Bill   and here 
Energy efficienct appliance rebate    
Air conditioners    
House design    
Building Star Energy Ratings    
Renew Economy  -  Online free articles on renewable energy and energy efficiency,
ATA Renew Magazine    Magazine for Alternative Technology Association members,
A Green House Around the Corner    Interesting stories about the energy efficiency journey!
Business general     and here  and here
Business – A/C, power factor correction    
Business Energy Savers Program    

Information on the available options can be made available to the community through a variety of sources:

a.    Full-page newspaper spreads. These can provide simple tips for ways to reduce energy use, along with links to useful sources of information. 

b.    Online Energy Info Hub: A Noosa-specific website, where the most relevant information is collated. This would pull together, vet, and provide access to reliable information and tools that are most relevant to Noosa Shire. It could include, for example, detailed reports; easy to read, well presented information on energy efficiency and renewable energy for households and businesses (e.g. http://www.yourhome.gov.au/); one or more public discussion forums on different topics; a brief description of the various groups in Noosa Shire and links to their websites; and summaries of current projects and campaigns. 

c.    A Community Energy Information Hub: This would be a shopfront where people could drop in for authoritative impartial advice. It could cover general information as well as targeted advice suitable for builders, architects, electricians, council officers etc. Although volunteers could staff such a centre, there would also be a need for trained staff. Its purpose is to provide information on renewable energy technologies, help raise energy awareness in the community, enable better communications through a ‘hub’ and could even act as a base for energy coaches (see below) to operate from and where people can request energy audits.

Energy efficiency actions typically have a simple payback time of less than 4 years, often much less, and yet it can be quite difficult to get households and businesses to take them up!

There is a range of reasons for this: lack of interest; lack of time to investigate the options; lack of good information (not only on the options that exist, but even on energy efficiency’s effectiveness); although the payback is high, the total amount of money saved can be quite low, and so not worth the effort; the split incentive problem (where a landlord would have to pay for the energy efficiency but the tenants get the benefit); for larger items such as SWHs the upfront cost may be too high; etc.

It is because of this that passive provision of information is often not enough to maximise the uptake of energy efficiency. The following summarises activities that could be used to help convert simple information into the adoption of energy efficiency options in Noosa Shire. 

ATA’s Sustainable House Day

The Sustainable House Day is run by the Alternative Technology Association (ATA) and is where people can open up their sustainably designed homes to the general public – ones that are not only environmentally friendly, but cheaper to run and more comfortable to live in. It gives visitors a chance to inspect houses that have been designed, built or renovated with sustainability in mind as well as the opportunity to talk to owners and receive unbiased advice. https://sustainablehouseday.com

Energy assessors

Energy assessors can be used to carry out home energy audits, and give talks at events and to local community organisations. Although they can generally be sourced from volunteers, they will need some form of formal training. Their information could be based on the sources in Table XI.

Community Engagement

There are many ways to actively engage with the community:

a.    A competition or community workshop for ideas to drive energy efficiency. With the uptake of energy efficiency being such an intractable problem, it may be that the best solutions will come from the community and businesses themselves.

b.    Noosa Energy Saving Challenge: This could be a competition run by ZEN that includes a high quality fact sheet that could form the basis of the full-page newspaper spread outlined above. [53]

c.    Repower Programs: This is where a street, group or business undertakes energy education, energy efficiency and renewable energy actions in order to maximise cooperative benefits. It can include ‘weatherisation programs’ that aim to improve the building envelope, especially in low-income homes. A particularly powerful aspect of activities such as Sustainability Street is peer group support. Once households see what other households are doing, and benefiting from, they are much more likely to do these things themselves. [54]

Solar water heaters and heat pumps

About 17% of households in Noosa Shire currently have solar water heaters or heat pumps, and the scenarios described above result in significantly higher uptake, and so here we cover SWHs in a little more depth than other energy efficiency options.

Where a significant amount of electricity is provided by solar PV, a large amount of electricity will be drawn from the grid overnight. Water heating generally uses off-peak electricity (overnight), and so SWHs can be very effective in reducing the amount drawn from the grid.  However, as discussed above, the effectiveness of SWHs can vary greatly. The amount by which they reduce the electricity used to heat water can vary between 20% and 90%. It is generally not possible for a householder to assess the performance of their solar water heater from their energy bills and other readily available information. A recent study regarding the installation and use of SWHs in Australia found that:[14]

a.    Households generally lack the information to buy the right type and size of SWH to suit their needs, as well as where to place it.[56]  This can act as a barrier to uptake.
b.    Households generally don’t know how to either use their SWH or adjust their habits to maximise its ability to reduce electricity use. As a result they are unsure how much money they have saved, if any.
c.    SWH installers generally provide limited, if any, advice on how to use the SWH.
d.    There is a clear need for independent unbiased advice for both purchase and operation, and community groups/events and word of mouth from friends are considered the most reliable sources.
e.    Households can be classified as either active or passive users of their SWHs, and information should be sculpted to these different groups.

Thus, there is a need for options to encourage uptake, such as the ‘Farming the Sun’ solar water heater bulk buy in the Northern Tablelands[57],  but also a need for complementary measures such as:

  • A pamphlet on how to operate a SWH that is provided along with all installations
  • Information, both online and as a pamphlet, on how to choose a SWH of the correct size, type etc
  • Possibly some form of training of SWH installers on what customers really want. This could include a low-flow showerhead (that has a payback time of less than 6 months).
  • Noosa Council could also investigate their powers to mandate SWHs in the planning scheme. As there may be limited opportunity for new houses in Noosa, a requirement for a SWH could also apply to renovations over a certain size.

Heat pump systems can offer a more flexible option to SWHs and their performance is usually comparable, if not better, for efficient systems. Heat pumps can overcome issues of shading, roof orientation and roof strength that often create major issues for solar thermal water heaters. They can be quite noisy however and so need to be located away from neighbours.


6.1.2.    Renewable Energy

Financial assessment tools

There are various tools that households and businesses can use to assess the financial outcomes of solar PV systems. For example:

SunSPoT

The Australian PV Institute (APVI) has developed the SunSPoT[59],  which is a free online tool for estimating the potential for electricity generation from PV on particular building roofs. The tool accounts for solar radiation and weather at the site; PV system area, tilt, orientation; and shading from nearby buildings and vegetation. Host sites potentially interested in installing PV can do their own preliminary assessment on the optimal size and financial return. Currently it only applies to capital cities (eg. Sydney City, Melbourne City, etc) as well as some suburbs in Sydney. To have it apply to Noosa would involve an upfront cost of around $12,000 plus about $3,000 per year for maintenance.

Sunulator

The Alternative Technology Association’s Sunulator is free and is similar to the Solar Potential Tool above, but also allows the user to take account of their own energy use and tariffs – which is useful if the PV system is likely to have significant amounts of export. In this case it would provide a more sophisticated and accurate estimate of the financial outcomes. It can also model a battery storage option. However, it does not incorporate local solar radiation and shading, and is more complex and so more difficult to operate and so may not be suitable for many people.[60]

Information guides

There are also various information booklets available on solar and batteries for both households and business. For example:

Guide for Installing Solar PV for Households

This is produced by the Clean Energy Council and includes the following topics.[61]  
•    The different types of solar PV systems
•    How much will it cost?
•    Government incentive schemes
•    Feed-in tariffs (the amount your electricity company pays you for excess power)
•    Choosing the right size solar system
•    Things to watch out for when signing a contract
•    Installation and connection to the grid
•    Maintaining your solar system
•    What to do if something goes wrong

Guide for Installing Solar PV for Business

This is also produced by the Clean Energy Council and includes the following topics.[62]  
•    Is solar PV the right choice for my business?
•    Grid-connected vs stand-alone systems
•    How much will it cost?
•    The business case for solar PV
•    Building and planning permits
•    Advice for businesses in leased premises
•    Government assistance and financing options
•    Choosing and installing your solar PV system
•    What do if something goes wrong

Battery Energy Storage website

The Queensland government has provided a website that explains the ins and outs of battery energy storage. It includes sections on: [63] 
1.    How battery energy storage works
2.    Types of battery energy storage
3.    Battery safety and maintenance
4.    Is battery energy storage right for you?
5.    Choosing a battery to suit your needs
Another useful source of information can be found here.  [64] 

6.2.    Proposed Projects for Noosa

The following proposes some specific projects that can be used to enable uptake of renewable energy in the residential and commercial sectors in Noosa, as well as options for large-scale systems. This section also outlines opportunities for community ownership (CORE). The proposed projects are summarised in Table XII.

 Table XII - Summary of Proposed Projects

Table XII - Summary of Proposed Projects

6.2.1.    Residential

Household-scale solar PV systems should provide a good investment return – see Table XIII. Indicative electricity tariffs have been used and will of course vary between households. The export tariff of 8c/kWh is only as estimate and will vary between retailers. The amount of exported electricity depends on both the size of the PV system and the load profile of the household. The more electricity used during the day, the better the financial return. Although this is only a simple payback time calculation, and so does not take into account the fact that the money used to buy a PV system could have been invested elsewhere, this is counteracted by the fact that electricity prices are likely to increase over time (note that the recent increase in electricity prices means that retail tariffs have effectively doubled in the past 10 years).

 Table XIII - Likely Financial Outcomes for a 3 kW Household Solar PV System

Table XIII - Likely Financial Outcomes for a 3 kW Household Solar PV System

Solar bulk buys

ITP recommends that ZEN and/or Noosa Shire Council facilitate a solar PV bulk buy. As discussed above, the systems may not be much cheaper that could be accessed directly from installers, but there is an implied guarantee regarding the quality of both the systems and the installers, and they can result in community benefits of some sort. The bulk buy pricing and associated information will also educate people so that they are less likely to fall prey to overpriced offers from external installers.

The main points to note are:

  1. Running a solar bulk buy is not a trivial task. It requires a central organisation that takes full responsibility for running the bulk buy, is skilled in project management, and has a high level of knowledge of solar technologies. If no one at ZEN or Council can take this on, ITP recommends that organisations such as those listed in Table X be contacted. 
  2. As many of the existing local installers should be used as possible. Any installers left out may undermine the bulk buy. A bulk buy should also be seen as an opportunity to up-skill local installers who may not yet quite make the grade. Increased competition will reduce prices, which should increase demand, which, combined with the other recommendations in this report, should create more than enough work for all the local installers. Instilling an ethos of high quality work and the use of high quality components will give the scheme high credibility and will lead to greater local confidence in solar and in the scheme, which will further build installation rates.
  3. Both a higher end PV system and a standard option should be made available. There may be a need for optional microinverters or power optimisers,[65]  which are more expensive but help a PV system to maintain its output despite shading. Use of good quality components installed by trusted local installers with suitable warranties of performance is a key element.
  4. Batteries could also be considered, however it is very important that the community is well informed regarding their financial payback. In most situations, at current prices, batteries are unlikely to pay themselves off during their warranty period.
  5. Solar water heaters should also be considered. Some of the solar PV installers in Noosa are also SWH installers, and so they could be involved in this offering. Farming the Sun has experience with SWH bulk buys. The use of high quality heat pump systems may be a more flexible and cost effective for the supply of hot water in many circumstances. [66]
  6. The community should be consulted on what sort of community benefit they would like, be it a cash donation to certain charities or free solar systems for community organisations.
  7. Maximum use should be made of all the local community organisations’ networks to spread the word. This should extend beyond those with an environmental focus (eg. to sporting groups). 

Solar $avers

As discussed in Section 5.2, the Queensland government is currently conducting the Sunny Savers trials in Cairns, Rockhampton and Logan. There is no reason that Noosa Council couldn’t initiate their own Solar $avers program as many Victorian councils have done. Any of the three purchase options currently being trialled under Sunny Savers could be used. It may even be possible to use the local installers’ current finance offerings. Involvement of ZEN and/or Council adds credibility to the offer. In fact, it may even be possible to offer a combined Solar $avers/bulk buy.

Solar for Rentals

Any of the four different types of approaches discussed in Section 5.4 could be used for rental properties. The  ‘simple agreement’ approach is easy to make available as it does not necessarily involve a real estate agent, but will require cooperation between the landlord and the tenant. We have provided a simple spreadsheet that can be downloaded and used for this purpose. We have also provided a simple Memorandum of Understanding that can be adapted depending on the circumstances – see Appendix A. 
Information of this and the various ‘pay-for-use’ options could be included in the ‘Landlord Toolkit’ that ZEN is currently considering developing, and which could be funded from Council’s Economic Development Fund. This information could also be made available through the various platforms discussed in Section 6.1. Another option for renters is of course to simply invest in a CORE project as discussed in Section 5.5.2, be it on a business, a community organisation or a local school.

Solar access rights

Solar access rights for buildings are important not only for solar PV, but also for energy efficiency technologies such as SWHs and even for naturally lighting and for passive solar designed buildings. It is important to ensure that buildings and other structures do not infringe on the solar access provisions of a neighbouring property. The height of buildings, especially those located on a property’s northern boundary, can be a critical factor in ensuring good solar access. Neighbourhood agreements, such as covenants, may be entered into between property owners to protect PV solar access.
The Noosa Planning Scheme Policy 10 refers to the need to take into account the solar access enjoyed by neighbours. Part 14 of The Noosa Plan also refers to the need to minimise reductions in solar access of neighbours, and specifically refers to the needs of solar panels. To pre-empt complaints of shading of solar panels driven by new-builds or renovations, Noosa Council could develop a firm policy on how to address this issue. Overshadowing could reduce the financial returns from what could be a significant capital investment.

Cooran Earth Rights

Cooran Earth Rights is a group based in Cooran that was established to protest against the Colton Coal Mine, and subsequently are protesting against exploration permits close to Cooran. They have undertaken a significant amount of community engagement and appear to have a very actively engaged community. As such they could be an ideal place to launch campaigns such as the solar bulk buy, Solar $avers and possibly some form of rental solar awareness campaign. Cooran may also be a suitable place to undertake the commercial-scale activities discussed in the following section. 

6.2.2.    Commercial-scale

Commercial-scale solar PV systems should also provide a good investment return – see Table XIII. Businesses generally have a better match between their load profile and PV generation than do households (both higher in the middle of the day), which results in less export to the grid compared to household systems. Businesses can be divided into those whose electricity tariffs included demand charges (larger businesses), and those that did not (most of the businesses operating in Noosa). Demand charges are applied to the customer’s maximum monthly demand during specified time periods, and where they are included, the per kWh tariff rate is lower. Although a PV system may well reduce the demand charges, this is not certain without some additional internal load management system and/or batteries, and so in our calculations we have conservatively assumed it does not. This reduces the financial return but still results in very favourable payback times.

 Table XIV - Likely Financial Outcomes for a 30 kW Commercial Solar PV System

Table XIV - Likely Financial Outcomes for a 30 kW Commercial Solar PV System

ITP has identified the following types of opportunities for commercial-scale systems.

1. Local businesses

Multi-Site Feasibility Study

Although detailed community consultation was not undertaken with businesses in Noosa (apart from one community information session that targeted businesses), based on our experience, many businesses are interested in solar but don’t have the time to look into it because it is not part of their core business, and also lack the expertise to really know what the options are and what is best for their particular circumstances. 

ITP recommends that a Multi-Site Feasibility Study (MSFS) based on a two-stage approach be used to assist these businesses. The aim is to help the businesses to decide whether to install solar, and, where they proceed, to ensure that they end up with a high quality system at a good price. The costs of each of these stages could be spread across participating businesses or they could be covered by Noosa Council’s Economic Development Fund. Of course, even without support from the EDF, this would be money well spent given the high likelihood that solar would be a good business proposition. 

The first stage would be to help these businesses assess the financial viability of solar PV. A consultant who does not have a direct interest in convincing a business to install solar, but that has a very high level of technical knowledge of solar, should be contracted to provide an assessment the viability of solar for these businesses en masse. This would result in a series of reports (a separate assessment for each business) that would detail:

  1. The recommended system size(s)
  2. A detailed estimate of the installed cost
  3. The estimated annual generation and income
  4. The estimated simple payback time
  5. A brief description of any relevant issues such as shading or roofing restrictions (eg. any requirements for structural reinforcement), proposed alterations to operations in order to better align load with PV output, and any metering or switchboard limitations.

Sites should also be given the option of a more detailed assessment including load monitoring, and/or an energy audit, which could be provided at an additional cost. This would be important for businesses that have a demand charge included in their electricity tariffs because their per kWh rate could be quite low and solar may not reduce their demand charges (for example if their peaks occur in the early morning or late evening).

The second stage would be to help interested businesses to install an appropriate solar PV system. Either the same consultant from stage 1, or a different consultant, would be contracted to project-manage a call for tenders for installers and an assessment of those tenders, and then to perform quality assurance on the completed installations. This could all be incorporated with the free service that Ecobiz offer (http://cciqecobiz.com.au). 

Tourism Noosa may like to coordinate this approach for their members. It could also be combined with the use of the SunSPoT tool to write a report assessing Tourism Noosa’s members' overall potential for rooftop solar.

Where the business doesn’t own their building, one of the options identified in Section 5 could be used to overcome the landlord/tenant split incentive problem. As well as the ‘simple agreement’ and ‘third party automation’ approaches, other options include solar PPAs/leases, EUAs and solar gardens.

Solar PPAs and Solar Leases

Solar PPAs and Solar Leases may be suitable for businesses in Noosa, but before putting too much effort into these options it would be wise to survey business interest. They could be suitable for owner-occupiers or could even be used to overcome the landlord/tenant split incentive problem. Council could review its property portfolio and consider how to use solar PPAs and leases to facilitate the take up of solar by its commercial and community tenants.

This would not only showcase Council progressive activities, but also show other landlords/tenants that it is possible. If there is sufficient interest, this list could simply be made available to solar installers, or a MSFS approach could be taken.

Environmental Upgrade Agreements

As discussed in Section 5.4, these can be used to overcome the split incentive problem for commercial premises. In both Victoria[67]  and NSW[68]  legislative changes were required for EUAs to be implemented. Thus, we recommend that Noosa Council either undertake an investigation into whether EUAs may require legislative changes in Queensland, or lobby the state government to do this themselves. 

Embedded networks

As discussed in Section 5.6.1, industrial estates, apartment blocks, retirement villages or caravan parks may have embedded electricity networks. It is most likely that they do not, so if there is any interest in exploring the ability of embedded networks to enable the uptake of renewable energy, the first step would be to perform some sort of survey/audit to identify areas that do have embedded networks. Alternatively an invitation could be sent out to body corporates (especially in the Noosaville industrial estate) to see if they have an embedded network, and if they do, then to see if they have any interest in installing solar. 

Note that using an embedded network in this way is not a trivial task, and although any changes they undertake should have good financial returns, they could involve more complex metering and billing, and would need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis because each site is likely to have different circumstances and different opportunities. The outcomes of the survey/audit could be used to attract businesses that specialise in establishing and operating embedded networks.

Sundale Retirement Villages is in the process of building a retirement village in Tewantin that will be the first in Australia to have an embedded network. It will have a centralised PV system where the electricity will be shared amongst the residents, as well as electric cars and bicycles. Once this is built it will most likely act as a model case study proving that this can be done, and so lead to the development of more such projects.

2. Community organisations & Schools

- Solar PV on community buildings: In my notes I have that you are doing an audit on the council buildings that have PV, which would include the community groups who recently installed PV? It would be good to get info on these groups and their PV, what process they followed, could other community groups use the same process, etc.    Annie (11/5/18) Yes I should be able to get this information through in a couple of weeks

All the following is complete but I am still waiting on a response from Annie so this can be better meshed into what Council is already doing/planning.

Community Organisations

Many community organisations in Noosa occupy buildings owned by Noosa Council. They are generally under a licence or lease arrangement, but where multiple organisations may use a particular building, then each may operate under an agreement which includes the cost of electricity.

Where a licence or lease arrangement is used, there is an opportunity for the tenant to own a solar system to reduce their electricity costs. The main issue here is that when the lease expires the tenant may either lose their PV system or be required to remove it (and have nowhere for it to go). However, Noosa Council understands this issue and have said it is quite unusual for a licence or lease to not be renewed. Leases generally go for 21** years, and can be up to **65 years with Ministerial approval. Solar systems generally pay themselves off in 5 to 10 years.

Another issue relates to the requirements placed on tenants regarding significant changes to their site. In ITP’s experience with other jurisdictions, since the installation of solar PV on buildings leased by government is new, there are generally no processes in place to deal with it. Tenants can be required to go through a very convoluted process, which may be being developed ‘on the run’, and involve multiple sections or departments. Thus, ITP recommends that Noosa Council develops a publicly available transparent application process if tenants wish to install solar PV. This should culminate in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which could be incorporated into the lease agreement if necessary.

A proposed process is outlined below. It is based on a process developed for Byron Shire Council and so some aspects may not be relevant for Noosa. 

1.    Identify potential building (either by tenant or Council)
2.    Assess building/land category:

a.    Operational Land
b.    Leased Building (either Council or Crown owned)
c.    Council owned asset

3.    Consult with relevant asset manager to determine:

a.    Further relevant stakeholders
b.    Tenure status (this will determine who the MOU needs to be with)
c.    Potential renovation plans
d.    Most recent roof condition report
e.    Any known barriers to completing a solar project

4.    Identify if energy efficiency improvements can be made first and suitability of solar for the current use.
5.    Table a draft MOU for the project
6.    Complete a structural engineering assessment of roof supports (if necessary)
7.    Procure and install solar PV systems

Steps 4, 5, 6 and 7 are areas where assistance could be provided to tenants. 

Step 4: The tenant could pay for an energy efficiency audit, an audit could be incorporated into an existing or new group activity, or council could apply for grant funding to do a number of community buildings at the same time.

Step 5: Council could develop a template MOU that would meet the legal requirements of their lease agreements. It need not be complex and so could only include things such as who owns the PV system, who is responsible for operating and maintaining it, who is responsible for disposing of it (both when the lease ends and at the end of life of the system). In most, if not all cases, the responsibility for all of these would lie with the tenant. Note that all PV systems come with three warranties: an installation warranty (generally 5 years and covers the installer’s workmanship), a product warranty (generally 10 years and covers any faults in the panels, inverter etc), and a performance warranty (at least 20 years and warrants a certain level of performance over time – generally 80% of original output).

Step 6: Council could coordinate a group assessment of their buildings, which they could even pay for themselves as part of their responsibility to their tenants.

Step 7: If there is a sufficient number of sites, this could use the MSFS process. 

If the tenants operate under an agreement where they don’t pay their own electricity bills, it would be in Council’s interest to install a solar system themselves since it will reduce their own operating costs. They could also choose to pass on some of these savings to the tenants. They could follow essentially the same process as described above for leased buildings.

One issue that has been raised in other areas was the need to avoid ‘profiteering off crown’, which is where crown assets are used by groups to generate a profit. However, that this is unlikely to be an issue as long as the profit is going back into the organisation and not being dispersed to external for-profit organisations or businesses.

Community Ownership

These sorts of solar systems are of course perfect candidates for community ownership – that is, ownership not just by the community group, but by individual community members of that group. Any of the options for CORE projects discussed in Section 5.5 could be used, although it is likely that either the RePower Shoalhaven or Farming the Sun models would be best.

Solar for Schools

Public schools represent a good opportunity to install solar systems. Public schools in Qld pay their own electricity bills, and so the installation of solar can significantly reduce their operational costs. Solar Systems can be installed with an online descriptive live data interface that allows school children to understand how and when electricity is being produced. This can be combined with relevant curricula material from kindergarten through high school and serve as a valuable means of increasing familiarity, knowledge and acceptance of the technologies, which can be carried into later life. 

The Qld government has recently announced the Advancing Clean Energy Schools program which will run over 3 years and will focus on both energy efficiency and solar PV systems. Based on information provided by ZEN, it appears that the following Noosa LGA schools will be covered by the scheme:
•    Cooran State School
•    Cooroy State School
•    Noosa District State High School
•    Noosa District State High School - Pomona Campus
•    Noosaville State School
•    Pomona State School
•    Sunshine Beach State High School
•    Sunshine Beach State School
And these three state schools will miss out:
•    Kin Kin SS
•    Federal SS
•    Tewantin SS

At this stage the process for having the PV systems installed under the Advancing Clean Energy Schools program has not been made publicly available. Once it is known then ZEN may be able to assist the eight schools identified above. For example, if the schools have to organise the selection of installer themselves, ZEN could assist through a MSFS approach.
It may be possible for the three schools who miss out to get solar systems themselves based on the approach taken through ‘Solar my School’, which is a free council program currently being run in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney.[69]  It is currently being run jointly by Waverley, Randwick and Woollahra councils, and helps schools install solar PV through a free solar assessment, advice on funding, assistance selecting a quality PV system, teaching materials and promotion of what the school is doing. 

Community Ownership

School solar systems are also excellent candidates for CORE projects because they can draw on members of the school community. Such projects provide ongoing financial benefits to the community owners long after their children have left that school.

6.2.3.    Large-scale

Because of limits to the availability and cost of land there are very few opportunities for large-scale renewable energy generation within Noosa Shire. Here we take large-scale to be greater than 100kW, and so there would certainly be some opportunities in the Noosaville industrial estate, but nowhere near the amount required to reach the 100% renewable energy target.

Therefore, any significant large-scale development will need to be outside Noosa LGA. This then raises the issue of how Noosa can claim the renewable electricity towards its 100% RE target. As discussed in Section 4, we argued that renewable electricity could be said to contribute to Noosa’s 100% RE target if it came about solely because of the actions of people from Noosa. Although it isn’t necessary for the system to be owned, or the electricity to be purchased, by people from Noosa, this would create a clearer link to achievement of the target.

There are a number of solar and wind farms currently being built in Queensland, including the SolarQ proposal, which is relatively nearby.[70]  Three different approaches to community ownership of large-scale renewable energy projects were discussed in Section 5.5.2: through an unlisted public company limited by shares (SRPC and Sapphire), and through a cooperative structure (Hepburn Wind). 

The most promising approach for Noosa appears to be the approach taken at Sapphire Wind Farm, where shares available for community ownership of a portion of the wind farm are expected to become available in Oct 2018. Taryn Lane (Akin Consulting) and Adam Blakester (Starfish Initiatives) could be contacted to see if their approach could be applied to one or more large-scale developments in Qld. Note that as above, for this to count towards Noosa’s 100% target, an additional amount of capacity would need to be built – otherwise it is just a financial investment that would have happened anyway.

6.2.4.    Community Ownership

For all the above project types (apart from the large-scale ground-mounted PV arrays), ITP recommends that either RePower Shoalhaven’s CORE model or the Farming the Sun approach be used. Each involves a proprietary company limited by shares being established for each solar system (or group of solar systems). The main difference between the two is that under the Farming the Sun model the private company doesn’t own the PV system but just loans the money to the host site.

In the first instance, RePower Shoalhaven or Farming the Sun should be contacted to see if they are happy to provide assistance, and what sort of assistance they could provide. The best option is likely to be that one of these groups coordinate the establishment of the first ‘CORE company’ with on-the-ground assistance from ZEN. Once a local community group has developed more internal capacity, it could then set up the next CORE company, and so on.

The same general approach would be used for all the CORE opportunities discussed above. Once a specific project has been identified and a financial analysis completed (ie. installed cost, expected annual income, return on investment), it would be advertised as a CORE project to people who are likely to want to invest. Businesses, community organisations and public schools can use their own networks to make the project known to the public. 


Footnotes: 
(53)  An example of a fact sheet can be found here http://www.byron.nsw.gov.au/publications/fact-sheets
(54)  A good example can be found here http://www.repowerbyron.org
(55)  PV diverters can also be useful in this regard. Instead of excess PV electricity being exported to the grid, it is diverted to a storage hot water tank.
(56)  The report found a wide variety of problems with installation, including solar panels shaded by trees, solar panels facing in the wrong direction, lack of proper insulation, tanks or panels that were undersized, water pipes that were sub-optimally routed or positioned, and panels supported on vulnerable structures.
(57)  http://farmingthesun.net/bulk-buys/solar-hot-water-package/ 
(58)  This can include simple advice such as the benefit of showering early in the day (so the sun has time to reheat the water before the overnight boost).
(59)  It can be found here http://pv-map.apvi.org.au/sunspot
(60)  It can be obtained here - http://www.ata.org.au/ata-research/sunulator. 
(61) http://www.solaraccreditation.com.au/consumers/purchasing-your-solar-pv-system/solar-pv-guide-for-households.html
(62)  http://www.solaraccreditation.com.au/consumers/purchasing-your-solar-pv-system/solar-pv-guide-for-businesses.html
(63)  https://www.qld.gov.au/housing/buying-owning-home/battery-energy-storage
(64)  http://www.resourcesandenergy.nsw.gov.au/energy-consumers/sustainable-energy/home-solar-battery-guide
(65)  Most inverters are what are known as ‘string inverters’, where the electricity from normally two strings of panels is all channelled through a single inverter. If one of the panels in a string is shaded then the output from the entire string is significantly reduced. Microinverters are smaller inverters that are placed on the back of each panel. In this case, if one panel is shaded, only the output from that panel is reduced. Power optimisers are similar in that they are connected to each PV panel and maximise the power output of that panel. 
(66) http://www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au/RET/Scheme-participants-and-industry/Agents-and-installers/Small-scale-systems-eligible-for-certificates/Register-of-solar-water-heaters (67)  https://www.energy.vic.gov.au/energy-efficiency/environmental-upgrade-agreements
(68)  http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/business/upgrade-agreements.htm
(69) More information can be found here - http://reduceyourfootprint.com.au/projects/solar-my-school/ 
(70) https://www.solarq.com.au

 

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