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The Changing Face of Community Energy Networks

Energy policy is one of the most – if not the most – hotly debated topics. Rising power bills and the revelation of inside industry tricks have left customers disillusioned and played a significant role at the last federal election.

This year’s Federal Election saw energy affordability and the move towards more sustainable resources as a key motivator in swaying public opinion, with promises being made by both parties to invest more into renewable energy to facilitate lower energy prices for customers and moving towards a more sustainable future.

With public opinion calling for more environmentally friendly means to generate, store and use energy, the energy industry has been forced into fast-tracking the technological advancement and deployment of renewable energy to ensure we stay on track to meet our Paris Agreement targets; as well as fill the gap of traditional coal-fired power.

For the last decade, the conventional model for implementing renewable resources has been the installation of Solar PV systems on the rooftops of standalone homes that ultimately lower household bills by generating free energy. However, as the trend to higher density living increases in metropolitan cities with multi-tenant developments meeting the needs of the growing population, the technology has adapted to also offer renewable solutions to multi-tenanted properties

To implement these technologies within multi-tenanted properties such as apartment buildings, retirement living villages and shopping centres, Community Energy Networks are the base technology needed for this technology to be implemented.

Community Energy Networks work by taking the aggregated energy usage of a development through a single point to purchase electricity from the wholesale market at wholesale rates. By combining the usage of an entire development together, this allows the community to share in the benefits that buying energy at wholesale prices provides.

At the Vanguard Apartments in Victoria’s premier suburb of Malvern East, Benson Property Group had the foresight to equip the building with a 20kW Solar PV system to further benefit the residence Community Energy Network and a 24-panel solar thermal preheat system. Using solar energy to pre-heat hot water systems reduces energy consumption, as well as radically reducing CO2 emissions.

When Solar PV is implemented into a development, the site is generating its own electricity that can be fed back into the common areas to assist with reducing Owners Corporation fees and increasing the green star rating of the building. With the increasing advancement of battery storage technology, the energy generated from Solar PV Systems can now be stored and utilised for those times when the sun isn’t shining or to off-set peak time energy usage of the development.

In Waterloo NSW, The Noble Apartments by Hifu Capital has gone a step further to future-proof their building. With a 5 kW solar system feeding into the sustainably generated electricity into the common area and an Electric Vehicle Charger installed in the basement for communal use by the residents of the building.

With the capabilities of battery storage and Electric Vehicle Charging stations, Community Energy Networks allow a move toward the futureproofing for the longevity of a development and empowering the residents of these developments with lower energy costs.

As Australia’s largest Community Energy Network Provider, WINconnect is committed to moving towards a more sustainable future by supplying those within our networks with renewable technologies and futureproofing for the technological advancement we expect to revolutionise the energy industry and benefit our customers. We’re already providing these services to buildings across Australia – which is helping Australia reducing its emissions by generating less fossil-fuel power and encouraging the take-up of electric vehicles. As one version of the old adage goes – “it all starts at home!”. In this case, it literally does.