I love talking to local groups about community energy. At Marion tonight the Common Thread crowd were full of questions and discussion. And the home made soup made for a very inviting atmosphere.
I gave a presentation but when asked which organisation should take the lead on community energy and which projects to start with, I opted not to answer. After all, one of the main conclusions of my Churchill Fellowship was that each place has its own unique energy solutions and each community needs to do the work of developing the package of changes that will best work for it.
For the record, it is clear that wind and solar dominate our renewable energy mix (contrast that with a similar climate of NZ and their answers are often geothermal and hydro). But our energy use is also part of the packaging that we need to think about. I imagine a future with plenty of decentralised supply through rooftop solar and plenty of flexible load to soak up the energy whenever it is in surplus.
As always, some interesting ideas emerged tonight. New Renewal SA developments around Morphetville could be prime targets for modelling different forms of energy supply and communal energy use/optimisation. When asked if Council could bulk purchase energy on behalf of residents, I wondered if the regulator would allow it – although there are plenty of models out there where retailers are trying to capture customer loyalty. The more interesting and long term question is probably about groups of residents optimising their load profile and being rewarded for it – both by the wholesale/retail market and by the network operator.
So my thanks to my wonderful audience. For those interested in getting started straight away, please consider CORENA for funding solar and energy efficiency projects on the buildings of all your worthy community organisations. We are always looking for projects and you can find the EOI form here.
The Document here captures many of the ideas we discussed. Please add your own.
I’ve created a Facebook group – Community Energy Action South Australia in the hope that we can support each other in getting started. I know of a number of projects humming along in development, many from those who attended the Community Energy Congress. I am keen to deliver workshops that could bring the learnings from the Congress to South Australia and help groups work through the financial and legal models that are suitable for their situation.
Mark Henley has challenged me to get two projects up and running in the next few years so we have something real to point to. The Group will help us share ideas, inspiration and support for each other’s projects. Please join if you’re interested.