Solar Integrity Community Projects
Yackandandah now has 3 micro grids in their endeavour to reshape our electricity future. And each one has been different from the last.
In this project customer could choose how not only if they participated but HOW they participated. They could either participate by one or all of the following;
Solar & battery installation
Add battery to existing solar system
Upgrade hot water system to new energy efficient heat pump
Install Mondo UBI monitoring device
Similar to the Ben Valley SWER project all of these technologies will be used to trial ways to create a more secure energy resource on a SWER (Single Wire Earth Return). SWER’s are commonly found in rural areas and are it’s the end of the line they can often incur some technical limitations.
Resistive (traditional) electric hot water systems are a huge drain on our electricity network, particularly in rural and regional towns. They also put a great deal of strain on hip pocket. Hot water is the biggest cost on peoples electricity bills. They also have an impact as to how solar power systems are able to feed power back into the network.
We know through our micro grid projects with Totally Renewable Yackandandah and Mondo Power the positive impact that installing more efficient hot water systems can make. That’s why in 2019 we partnered with Indigo Power and 9 volunteer community energy groups that form the North East Community Energy Network to do an Australian first – a Regional Hot Water Bulk Buy, using only the best products on the market – Reclaim Energy Heat Pumps and Apricus Australia Solar Hot Water Units.
We started this project in July 2019 and continued through to 2020 with installations. We have been successful in installing approximately 80 systems across the region. Across towns such as Beechworth, Benalla, Bright, King Valley, Mansfield, Mt Beauty, Rutherglen, Tawonga, , Wangaratta, Wodonga, Yackandandah. Sadly the 2019/2020 bushfires put a halt to our project but we will be restarting it again in the near future.
Stay tuned as we turn this into a regional case study…….
Out with the old and in with the new – the first 5 days is the old electric hot water system. The last 2 days are when the new Reclaim Heat Pump was installed. This customer can now power her hot water system by solar using her control devices.
Beechworth is another wonderful community that is taking charge for a renewable energy future. In 2019 we were the delivery partner for their Community Solar Power Offering. This saw a number of solar power installations installed across the township using quality products such as LG and Trina solar Panels, Fronius inverters and the Mondo UBI for real time energy monitoring. The Mondo UBI also tally’s the community generation for all to see. This gives a great sense of belonging. And now they can choose to have a local electricity company in Indigo Power.
Another grand step towards 100% renewable energy was made by Totally Renewable Yackandandah. This Project saw 10 community buildings have solar installed and 3 also had an added battery. Most of these buildings will be generating excess during the day and feeding back into the community grid to be used elsewhere. Those with batteries will be able to draw down on the battery at night, or in the case of an emergency or power failure they will be able to continue to operate to varying degrees.
One of the buildings is the Yackandandah CFA. What a shining example to be able to operate in the event of an emergency and know that if the power fails you will still be able to remain safe. It is our dream to see this style of system installed on all emergency service buildings.
For this project we used a combination of LG and Trina solar panels all accompanied with a Fronius inverter and Mondo Power UBI, and for those systems that had an added battery we use the LG Chem range.
Indigo Power is a community owned electricity retailer based right here in the North East of Victoria and Border NSW Region, they are a certified social enterprise. Solar Integrity has been blessed to be chosen as a delivery partner on a number of their renewable energy projects. And there are even more to come in 2020…..
29.8kw on the Old Beechworth Gaol.
This system is designed with expansion in mind, as the site expands with tenants they will be able to expand their solar system to service their needs. They are also able to sell their excess solar power to Indigo Power where it can be used elsewhere in the community through their customers. This project was an interesting one and one that will always be a favourite of ours with such significant history involved in the site. We had to adhere to Heritage Victoria’s requirements to ensure that the panels did not disrupt the heritage site. We used LG solar panels paired with Fronius inverters and a Mondo Power UBI for energy monitoring.
17.5kw DELWP Hume & Taungurung Land & Water Council.
Indigo Power are all about community partnerships and this one excelled. We installed 50 x LG solar panels with a Fronius inverter and Mondo Power UBI for full monitoring. This like other Indigo Power projects will allow for community energy sharing.
This was project was one of the first of its kind. A partnership between a community energy group (RAW Energy) and a social housing organisation (Beyond Housing). The aim of this project was to install 10 x 4kw systems on social housing homes in Wodonga to have a direct positive impact on peoples living expenses. And to allow real time monitoring where the tenants could track their usage and production and move their energy use to take advantage of solar production.
Wodonga has one of the highest disconnection rates for electricity in all of Victoria. This project will be turned in to a case study in 2020 so it can been seen and measured as to the impact made not only on the cost of living for these tenants but their lifestyles.
For this project we used Trina solar panels with Fronius inverters and Mondo Power UBI’s for real time monitoring.
This project consists of 14 installations to create a fully operational mini grid on a SWER line in the Ausnet Services network area. The research project was partially funded by ARENA, and is a project in partnership between University of Technology Sydney, Ausnet Services and Mondo Power. Solar Integrity were the chosen installation delivery partner, completing the sales and installation processes.
The project aims to are to integrate solar, battery and a control tool called UBI (designed and made by Mondo Power), to assist in creating grid harmony by managing voltage rises and drops in a SWER scenario. Thus creating greater energy security for those living on the SWER; less/no power interruptions, less maintenance costs for the network provider. This particular SWER was chosen as it was due for an upgrade.
This SWER had been experiencing voltage rises during the day, when the rises in voltage occur outside the acceptable thresholds the UBI can identify when batteries have the capacity to store excess energy and divert power to those, thus bringing voltages back within range.
A more significant concern was the voltage drops occurring at approximately 2am when electric storage water heaters were switching on. To help manage this via the UBI, a small amount of power from the customers’ batteries is fed back into the network in order to bring the voltage back up into the acceptable range.
The needs of each customer were assessed individually and the systems designed to their needs first and foremost. However all the batteries were to be the same size as stipulated by the project owners.
All current data is showing success in creating grid harmony, and the customers are excited to be a part of such a significant trial.
It was for an installation in this project that Luke won a national solar installers CEC award. The photos featured are our award winning installation.
Clean Energy Council 2018 Award Winner - "Best Solar PV System Design & Installation Under 30kw Grid Connect PV Power System with Battery Back Up"
Yackandandah have a renewable energy target of 100% by 2022 and in order to meet this they are looking at numerous ways to achieve. One of the large energy users in Yackandandah is water heating. So to combat this Solar Integrity in partnership with Totally Renewable Yackandandah were able to offer subsidised Apricus Hot Water units. 20 customers took up the offering. However 12 months earlier when the solar bulk buy was on offer we sold 10 hot water units. So you could say that TRY through their efforts to date in these 2 projects have replaced 30 hot water units… that we know of. We also engaged 4 local plumbers to do the installations, a great way to upskill and encourage local growth.
Kangaloola is operated in the bush of Yackandandah, so no mains power connected. They care for injured, orphaned and abandoned wildlife. The work they do there is nothing short of amazing. They have limited resources and is a not for profit so not a big budget. Up until 2017 they had operated on a diesel generator for power (now a standalone system), and LPG & wood fire for their hot water.
In early 2018 Kangaloola, Solar Integrity and Totally Renewable Yackandandah joined forces for a hot water project. Hot water is vital for the wildlife and the volunteers alike, and LGP is just too expensive, and wood is labour intensive. Solar Integrity were able to donate a nice little Apricus commercial style system, with 3 x 315L tanks and 90 tubes they should now have plenty of hot water for their needs now and into the future.
In 2017 we were incredibly blessed to have been chosen as a major partner in the Yackandandah Community Solar Project which was an initiative of Totally Renewable Yackandandah & Mondo Power (a brand under the commercial arm of Ausnet Services).
We managed the sales and installation process of Australia’s first commercial mini grid of 14 houses, these 14 installed solar hybrid systems and the results have been amazing. Also 100+ solar only installations that are getting ready for batteries in the future.
What made this project different? The commercial mini grid is at the fore of where our energy network is heading – sharing energy among peers. Also, Mondo Power developed their own energy monitoring/management device called an UBI, the plans for this product alone is a game changer for every household and business.
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