7. DISCUSSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Increasing the uptake of renewable energy in Noosa 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. ZEN and Noosa Council have a key role to play, primarily as facilitators, but Council can also lead 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 employment(71) 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.(72) In Noosa 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).
In addition, every 1 MW of solar PV installed in Noosa Shire would generate about 1.37 GWh of renewable electricity each year. Further, this would avoid about $85,000 leaving Noosa Shire 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. 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.
7.1.1. Energy Info Hubs
Noosa Council could consider incorporating into their website a more comprehensive Online Energy Info Hub that pulls together, screens, and provides access to reliable information and tools that are most relevant to Noosa Shire. It could also link 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 operate from the drop-in centre.
7.1.2. Solar bulk buy
A solar bulk buy could be coordinated according to the process outlined above. It should have both a standard and higher-end option, use local installers, provide a community benefit, and could include batteries and SWHs.
7.1.3. Solar $avers
Noosa Council could pursue it’s own Solar $avers program – drawing on the experience of the various Victorian councils who have run this type of program, as well as the Sunny Savers program being run by the Qld government.
7.1.4. Solar for Rentals
Through its Economic Development Fund, Noosa Council could fund the development of a Landlord’s Toolkit which would provide information regarding the various options to overcome the ‘split incentive barrier’.
7.1.5. Solar Access Rights
Noosa Council could develop a firm policy on how to address the issue of overshadowing of what could be a significant financial investment in solar PV or SWHs.
7.1.6. Multi-Site Feasibility Study
ZEN or Council could coordinate a Multi-Site Feasibility Study to help businesses obtain solar. The first stage would involve a high level assessment of the viability of solar at each business. The second stage would involve a call for tenders for installers and an assessment of those tenders, then quality assurance of the completed installations.
7.1.7. Solar PPAs & Solar Leases
As a first step, businesses and Council could be surveyed to assess their interest in these options. If there is sufficient interest, this list could simply be made available to solar installers, or a MSFS approach could be taken.
7.1.8. Environmental Upgrade Agreements
Noosa Council either undertake an investigation into whether EUAs may require legislative changes in Queensland, or lobby the state government to do so this themselves.
7.1.9. Embedded Networks
A survey/audit could be used to identify areas that have embedded networks, as well as their potential interest in installing solar. The outcomes of the survey/audit could be used to attract businesses who specialise in establishing and operating solar embedded networks.
7.1.10. Community organisations
Noosa Council could develop a publicly available simplified process for tenants that wish to install solar PV. This should include some form of assurance that the lease term would be long enough to pay off the solar system.
7.1.11. Solar for Schools
ZEN may be able to assist the schools that have qualified for the Advancing Clean Energy Schools program. ZEN may also be able to assist the three schools that have not qualified by contacting the councils running the ‘Solar my School’ program in Sydney.
7.1.12. Large-scale solar
ZEN should contact Taryn Lane (Akin Consulting) and Adam Blakester (Starfish Initiatives) regarding the different business models for community ownership of large-scale renewable energy plant.
7.1.13. Community-Owned Renewable Energy
ZEN could facilitate the development of community-owned renewable energy projects where appropriate. For all but the large-scale solar projects, this would most likely use either the RePower Shoalhaven model or the Farming the Sun model, and ideally be with the assistance of these organisations.
(71) 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.
(72) Based on IRENA, 2016, ‘Renewable Energy and Jobs, Annual Review 2016’, International Renewable Energy Agency.