Case Study: Towards a totally renewable Indi

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The world is rapidly moving towards a clean energy future and Indi is helping to lead this positive change.

Electricity generated from non-renewable, finite resources (e.g. coal) is being replaced by electricity generated from renewable sources. Renewable energy is produced using natural resources – solar energy, wind energy, and hydropower. Renewable energy sources allow households and businesses to generate electricity, use what they need, and sell the excess. This energy revolution has been emerging for decades. Osbornes Flat resident Susan Reynolds installed her first solar hot water system 40 years ago and a solar PV system in the mid-2000’s. She is one of Indi’s early adopters of renewable energy.

We are now seeing large solar PV systems being installed at many major businesses across Indi, including Mars Petcare in Wodonga. Commercial solar farms greater than 1 MW are also at various stages of development. Commercial investment in the renewable energy sector makes good financial sense, and commercial-scale projects are helping to increase generation and supply of renewable energy in Indi.

Community energy projects are emerging across Indi.

Renewable energy also provides local communities the opportunity to store the energy they are generating via their solar PV systems (using batteries), and to share this clean energy among neighbours.

Community energy (or community renewable energy) is a system of energy supply and distribution that is largely owned and managed by the local community. The goals of community energy are:

  • Decarbonise the energy supply via renewable energy
  • Decentralise and localise energy supply
  • Democratise energy governance through community ownership
  • Demonstrate that clean energy technologies work and that a clean, low carbon energy future is possibleTotally Renewable Yackandandah (TRY) is a trailblazer for community energy. Initiatives like TRY are being driven by visionary and passionate community leaders who typically participate in a volunteer capacity. To achieve their vision they rely on strong support from their communities, all levels of Government, and industry.

How can we get there together faster?

Indi communities want a renewable energy future, they want to be part of it, and it can’t come quickly enough.

85% of Indi voters support Australia transitioning to 100% renewable energy by 2030

67% of Australians think that the nation is moving into renewable energy too slowly

73% supported setting a new Renewable Energy Target (RET) for 2030

95% of residents in the Ovens Murray region surveyed say that climate change exists and humans are contributing to it

84% of residents in the Ovens Murray region surveyed are willing to take action on climate change

75% of residents in the Ovens Murray region surveyed are interested in taking part in community energy projects

Australia Institute, Indi electorate poll of 656 residents (2016)  Australia Institute, National poll (March 2017)
Victorians’ Perceptions of Climate Change – Regional Report Ovens Murray, Sustainability Victoria (November 2017)

‘It’s time to unleash the power of communities to address local energy needs and security’

Totally Renewable Yackandandah (TRY) is paving the way for community energy in Indi. Their ‘blueprint’ could be expanded across the electorate, where community energy projects connect with and support each other. But communities can’t do it on their own in a largely volunteer capacity, and nor should they. Strategic support provided to communities can go along way. Modelling indicates that every dollar of government investment in community energy can leverage $10-$17 of community investment. The community, government and industry can help fast-track Indi’s totally renewable future in the following ways:

1. Participate in community energy projects across Indi

  • Indi residents can initiate community conversations, attend workshops, join a committee, and sign up to a program offering subsidised solar panels and batteries

2. Increase collaboration with other community energy projects

  • Community energy projects can share information with and learn from other projects throughout Indi by participating in forums such as the Indi Energy Working Group

3. Increase lobbying of your local governments for stronger leadership on renewable energy

  • Includes increased support for community energy projects

4. Introduce a National Energy Policy

    • Bipartisan and nationally-coordinated to provide long term certainty at the policy level
    • Agreed Renewable Energy Targets (RET)
    • Recognise community energy for addressing energy supply, cost, and sustainability issues
    • Recognise mini grid models (such as TRY) as a legitimate mechanism for energy supply

5. Improve and increase support to community energy projects and Community Energy Retailers

    • Enable community energy projects to access the National Electricity Market (NEM)
    • Support Community Energy Retailers to allow mini grids to access top-up power from other sources
    • Improve Federal – State Government alignment and coordination of funding for community energy projects, toreduce the administrative burden on what are essentially volunteer run initiatives

6. Increase stimulus for renewable energy infrastructure developments

  • Large solar PV farms and battery storage, pumped hydro (Indi pumped storage and Snowy Hydro 2.0), and transmission linkages to release renewable energy to South Australia and Victoria from Snowy 2.0

7. Increase investment in commercial renewable energy projects in Indi

  • Large solar PV systems such as Burder Industries Wangaratta (325 kW), Kane Road Wodonga Solar (198 kW), and Bupa Wodonga (100 kW)7 are leading the way on carbon emission reductions, slashing industry electricity bills, and helping to fast track Indi’s transition to renewable energy

8. Strengthen partnerships with community energy projects in Indi

  • Industry financial support, innovation, and expertise are vital to the success of community energy projects in Indi. Mondo Power and North East Water are shining examples of industry partners helping TRY achieve its vision for Yackandandah
  • Support the ‘Indi Community Energy Hub’ to create jobs and up-skill local residents, and build the capacity of Indi communities to reach a totally renewable future

Download a copy of the full pdf here.

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