There’s no doubt that solar is booming. It’s now a mainstream purchase item for many households and businesses quite simply because solar can be a good financial investment with a payback of around three to five years.
We’re seeing this solar boom in the Mount Alexander and Macedon Ranges Shires where the uptake of household solar beats the Aussie average of one in five homes by quite some way. In Mount Alexander Shire, 35.5% of homes have solar and the Macedon Ranges Shire is not far behind at 29%. We’re doing well but we still have some way to go compared to Indigo Shire (Beechworth and surrounds) which has 44% household solar!
1.6MW Installed through MASH in the last year
The MASH Community Solar Bulk-Buy has seen strong interest in the last 12 months resulting in over 300 systems installed across the Central Victorian region that we serve. These systems have added an additional 1.6MW of new solar generation capacity which is reducing greenhouse gas emissions by around 2,300 tonnes a year (equal to around 500 less cars on the roads).
It’s all good stuff and shows that solar is here to stay. But it’s not without its challenges – and a big one is our ageing electricity grid.
The good news is that a number of groups including the CVGA have made bids to trial neighbourhood batteries in our region. Neighbourhood or community batteries could mean that homes that don’t have solar would be able to purchase electricity from the community battery. It would also allow solar homes to export their excess power into the community battery and be paid for it.
Investment in Infrastructure
Powercor is also investing in its infrastructure to reduce the number of ‘would be’ solar homes being told that they can’t export their excess power to the grid (currently we are seeing this happening to around one in three properties). Woodend Neighbourhood House, for example, has just been informed by Powercor that the export limitation for the property has been lifted as their nearest transformer has been upgraded.
The signs are promising that strong initiatives are being put in place to help manage the transition to a greater use of clean energy in our region – and that’s something to be glad about!
If you are interested in finding out about MASH, visit mash.org.au or call 1300 466 274. We are holding solar and battery info meetings in Castlemaine and Woodend starting 13 May – details on our website.
By Jo Kaptein, Program Lead, MASH community solar bulk-buy organised by the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance (CVGA)