The 900-strong rural community of Malmsbury can feel safer from the impact of bushfires and other emergencies thanks to a new solar and battery system that provides full protection from power outages. Installed on the Malmsbury CFA Fire Station through the MASH solar bulk-buy, the 10.54kW solar power and Tesla Powerwall 2 battery system ensures that if the grid goes down in the event of a bushfire or storm, the Malmsbury Fire Brigade will have the power they need to respond.
Facilitated by the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance, the system is funded by a grant from Bank Australia and contributions from the Malmsbury Fire Brigade and through CVGA’s MASH Community Solar Bulk Buy program. This system demonstrates how solar and battery storage can help protect communities from the threat of bushfires.
This story was reported by WinNews on 22 July 2020. It was also covered by Nine News Central Victoria.
Maintaining critical functions during a bushfire
“During emergency events it is common for the electricity grid to go down, making it harder for organisations like the CFA to respond,” said Rob Law, Executive Officer at the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance. “This solar and battery system is designed to operate if the grid goes down which will enable Malmsbury Fire Brigade to maintain critical functions during an emergency. This is what we call local energy resilience, and something we think is a big opportunity for our region. Not only does it provide greater protection from the threat of bushfires and storms but it saves on power bills and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. ”
A great example of community working together
“This is a great result for the Malmsbury community. It ensures we can operate and respond from the fire station during a power outage and it can also be a hub for the community at the same time” said Tony Stephens, Malmsbury Fire Brigade Captain.
“We see the results of climate change through more intense and frequent storms and fires, and being able to reduce our carbon footprint and reduce emissions is important for our members and our community . This is a great example of the community, local interest groups and industry working together to reduce the impacts of fires and other emergencies, aid recovery and do our bit to reduce the impacts of climate change. It is a win for everyone,” said Tony.
“When we heard about the generous offer from CVGA and Bank Australia, Sustainable Malmsbury representatives nominated the local CFA as a worthy recipient. The Malmsbury CFA do a great deal for our community and we were already aware that they were looking at options for remaining fully operational and being a community hub during power outages, particularly during the bushfire season,” said Kathryn Allen, Sustainable Malmsbury Action Group leader, Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group.
Supported by Bank Australia
“Renewable energy is a top priority for our customers and us as a bank, so it’s important for us to help grow the capacity of the community renewable energy sector by funding solar and battery installation projects with the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance and the Malmsbury CFA that are supporting the transition to a clean energy future,” said Jarrod Troutbeck, Senior Sustainability Consultant at Bank Australia.
“If there is a power outage, the Tesla Powerwall 2 battery enables the solar PV to operate independently of the grid in what is called ‘islanding mode’. The system provides at least one full day of power autonomy in the event of a blackout, and depending on weather conditions, the system can continue to operate indefinitely in islanding mode whilst the grid is down”, said Anthony Igmen, General Manager of Specialized Solar, the company who designed and installed this system.
To learn more about MASH, visit mash.org.au or call 1300 466 274.
About the solar and battery system
- Malmsbury CFA has a single-phase power supply and uses, on average, 32 kilowatt hours of electricity each day. The system installed will generate an average 35 kilowatt hours of electricity every day. It comprises of:
- Solar PV: 10.56kw (32 x 330 watt Seraphim solar panels and 1 x Sungrow 8kw inverter)
- Batteries: 1 x Tesla Powerwall 2 with back up Gateway (usable storage 13.5kwh)
- Tesla Monitoring: back to base monitoring of system’s generation, export, self-consumption and battery levels.
- If there is a power outage the Tesla Powerwall 2 battery enables the solar power system to operate independently of the grid.
- This means that any power that is required during the day will be covered by the solar. Any excess solar power that is generated will be stored in the Tesla Powerwall 2 battery.
- The Tesla Powerwall 2 provides back-up power for the whole site.
- When the grid fails, the site will have power to all circuits.
- This solar and battery system can provide autonomy power for the whole site for 1 day. If power usage is limited to only lights, computer power and internet it could last for 3 days. This usage also includes the power required to open and close the roller doors.
- If weather conditions allow, the system will continue to operate indefinitely in ‘off grid’ mode.
- MASH is a project of the not-for-profit Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance (cvga.org.au) based in Castlemaine. CVGA works with 13 councils in central and north western Victoria to run projects that help move the region towards a clean energy future. Over 1,500 households in the region have installed rooftop solar through MASH. For more information about MASH (the campaign for More Australian Solar Homes), visit mash.org.au or call 1300 466 274.