Innovative microgrid project demonstrates sustainable living design
A new-generation, solar-powered microgrid community in Melbourne’s north is paving the way for low-cost, sustainable, residential energy. The Solstice Precinct in the new Rathdowne community at Wollert is the collaborative project of a partnership between Villawood Properties, Energy Australia and TownLiving by Metricon.
Under the project, homes and a large residents’ club will store and share solar-generated power from their roofs. The 100 kW/270 kWh battery system will consist of 32 townhouses with 4 kW solar systems, four with 3 kW solar systems and a 70 kW solar system at the residents’ club, Club Rathdowne.
Each townhouse has its own solar system and smart home solution that provides visibility and control of energy consumption and generation. Energy not consumed within the home is stored at a centralised battery at the residents’ club, controlled by an intelligent microgrid platform that manages the energy flow across the whole Solstice Precinct and from the national grid.
It is anticipated that townhouse tenants will cut their electricity bills by up to 50% through the combined benefits of their solar system and the microgrid. Any energy generated within the microgrid that is not consumed by the Solstice Precinct will be fed back into the national grid, delivering another environmental benefit and green contribution.
Endorsed by the state government’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) for its achievement of sustainable living guidelines, the development is destined for great success, delivering numerous positive outcomes to home owners.
The cutting-edge development spearheads the industry’s move towards a new class of sustainable living residential housing aimed at cutting CO2 emissions, addressing climate change and reducing energy costs.
“For over 30 years, Villawood Properties has been committed to community growth, sustainability, environment enhancement, new technologies and social responsibility,” Villawood Executive Director Rory Costelloe said.
“Our latest Solstice Precinct microgrid project at Wollert embodies these values as well as delivering real energy savings to families, easing their financial burden whilst contributing positively to the health of the planet.
“The microgrid combining individual solar PV systems and a centralised battery together with smart home capabilities is a game changer that will help residents use energy much more efficiently and lower their bills by up to 50% in addition to maximising the benefits of renewable energy across the Solstice Precinct. A win-win all round.”
EnergyAustralia Chief Customer Officer Mark Brownfield said the organisation is excited to have played a key role in this innovative project.
“Our purpose at EnergyAustralia is to lead and accelerate the clean energy transformation for all, from small community projects to providing clean energy for the state. That’s what’s so exciting about the Solstice Precinct microgrid at Wollert — it demonstrates what can be done at a local level. The technology helps residents become self-sufficient, gives them control over their energy use, reduces their bills as well as their carbon emissions. We believe what we’re doing in Wollert is the start of more community energy solutions being rolled out across Australia,” Brownfield said.
“The Solstice Precinct microgrid at Wollert is a great addition to our long list of sustainability achievements, done on a larger scale. This includes our commitment to building a battery in the Latrobe Valley by 2026 — bigger than any battery operating in the world today — and offsetting the energy emissions of over 250,000 EnergyAustralia customers who’ve chosen to Go Neutral, with over 1.6m tonnes of carbon dioxide offset to date,” he said.
Steven Jennings, Victorian General Manager of TownLiving by Metricon, said, “As Australia’s leading home builder, we are very proud to be working with Villawood Properties and Energy Australia to bring a new-generation, solar-powered, lower-cost, sustainable energy-based future of housing to the market.”
The Victorian Government’s Microgrid Demonstration Initiative has supported the microgrid for this project, which includes solar panels on every townhouse connecting to the microgrid, and a microgrid controller and battery at the Residents’ Club to store and manage energy flow throughout the precinct.
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