EnergyAustralia to turn charities into mini-power plants
Electricity company EnergyAustralia is launching a $15 million program to help charities slash their power bills by installing free solar panels and battery systems, turning them into mini-power plants.
EnergyAustralia will carry out a series of energy audits for participating charities to identify how they can become more energy efficient, and then install rooftop solar and battery systems, smart energy management networks and provide advice for upgrading their electrical appliances.
EnergyAustralia would provide free rooftop solar panels and batteries to charities to help them slash power bills.Credit:Glenn Hunt
It will also link these solar systems and batteries to create a 'virtual power plant' that can provide extra electricity to the grid at peak times.
“When we find ways for a charity to spend less on electricity it means more of the funds raised can go towards helping vulnerable people in need,” EnergyAustralia’s NextGen executive Andrew Perry said.
Around $5 million in funding will be committed to the ‘Power for Good’ program every year for the next three years.
This program will be funded through the sale of renewable energy certificates – which are generated by companies that produce renewable energy – to other electricity retailers.
While EnergyAustralia has covered around 80 per cent of its emissions obligations with these certificates – totalling around 2.6 million certificates – from its wind and solar power it has on-sold the remaining 20 per cent, or around 700,000 certificates, to other retailers.
It will use funds from the sale to pay for the program and buy back certificates later to fill the gap.
“We’ll make good on any shortfall over the next couple of years, which means we still meet our full responsibility to support renewable energy under the [federal government’s] Renewable Energy Target, while generating money today,” Mr Perry said.
EnergyAustralia added that the construction of additional solar panels and battery systems, which can be controlled as a single virtual power plant, could add extra electricity into the grid during times of peak demand.
These virtual power plants have been described as the ‘uberisation’ of the energy market, allowing consumers to use assets that are already there in a smarter way to compete with major generators.
The retailer said as more charities join, “the initiative could eventually create one of Australia’s largest ‘virtual power plants’,” which removes the need to build large, centralised power stations and instead relies on multiple small renewable systems acting as one to generate power.
Berry Street, an independent child and family services charity in Victoria, aims to be one of the program’s foundational partners.
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