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Tourist hot spot to become fully renewable

Tourist hot spot to become fully renewable

Published:
Monday 12 September 2022

Tourist hot spot to become fully renewable

Phillip Island’s bold vision to become Victoria’s first fully sustainable tourist hot spot in Australia is one step closer, with plans approved for a revolutionary community energy storage system.

The Phillip Island Community Energy Storage System (PICESS) will offer greater reliability in electricity supply for the Island, especially during peak holiday periods and could potentially slash power bills, with residents able to use the grid to store their power.

The Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) has given planning approval for the installation of the 5MW/10MWh battery, affectionately dubbed the Big Battery by locals, near the village of Wimbledon Heights, Phillip Island.

Totally Renewable Phillip Island (TRPI) and the Energy Innovation Cooperative (EI Coop) are working closely with Mondo and Bass Coast Shire Council on the project, with a vision for Phillip Island to be carbon neutral and 100% renewable by 2030.

They are also working together on two other battery projects made possible by two Victorian Government grants of more than $500,000 DELWP’s Neighbourhood Battery Initiative.

The projects come amid Victoria’s strong renewable energy targets, which will see 50% of electricity come from renewables by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050. The target of 25% by 2020 has already been exceeded, with renewable energy generating more than 30% of the state’s electricity in 2021.

The first grant will help determine the feasibility of a network of street level batteries on the Island to boost the ability of the electricity network to host larger volumes of renewable power on the grid.

The second grant will fund a 12-month trial of 100 participants of the PICESS battery once installation is complete. It will explore cutting-edge tariff arrangements to support ‘virtual storage’ for people on the Island.

Household generated renewable energy, for example power generated from household solar systems, would be shared through innovative tariff trial structures with other Island residents who cannot currently access renewable energy, creating a local renewable energy production and shared resource.

As part of the tariff trial, the initiative will assess whether the new system will result in cheaper electricity bills by storing renewable energy in a community battery rather than property owners having to purchase their own household batteries.

TRPI Coordinator Zoe Geyer said what started as a concept five years ago was fast becoming a reality for the community.

“This is a new energy future that benefits everyone on the Island and gives people ownership and a sense of pride,” Ms Geyer said.

“Our community has a strong vision to be totally renewable by 2030 - which is 20 years ahead of the Federal and State targets.

”Bass Coast Shire has answered the community call and released a Climate Change Action Plan to meet this target. The arrival of the Big Battery (PICESS) on the Island, alongside these two great explorations into community access to locally-generated renewable energy and storage, pave the way for a just transition to a sustainable future that leaves no-one behind."

Mondo General Manager Distributed Energy, Dhammika Adihetty said: "We are pleased with the progress of this important project that will provide Phillip Island residents improved electricity reliability and a new renewable energy opportunity.”

Bass Coast Council has agreed to host the community battery on Council land.

Bass Coast Mayor Michael Whelan said the council had declared a climate emergency in 2020, and this project was one of a number of important initiatives aimed at ultimately reversing climate change.

“This project proves how important climate change is to our community, and everyone who lives on Phillip Island will benefit. With cost of living front of mind, the ability for communities to harness natural resources to produce and store power will hopefully make a real difference to household bills,” Cr Whelan said.

“We know clean, green power is what people want, and I’m sure this project will help inspire similar schemes in other communities across Victoria.”