June 29th 2013
Solar City project finishes on Magnetic
Ergon Energy’s Townsville Solar City project on Magnetic Island will officially end this month however trials at the heart of the project will continue as part of a broader sustainable energy program in Townsville.
As contractual Federal funding for the project finishes, work will continue on smaller projects trialling solar PV inverters to assist voltage control and testing customer interest in the control of hot water systems in blocks of selected residential units.
Chief Executive Ian McLeod said the Townsville Solar City project was one of seven Australian Government projects and delivered tangible benefits to customers, the environment and Ergon Energy.
“Together with the Magnetic Island community we have achieved outstanding results including reductions in peak demand, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. So substantial are these savings, we have deferred the need for another submarine electricity cable to the island, which in turn reduces capital costs and price pressure.
“Importantly, we are transferring the lessons from Magnetic Island to the rest of Queensland. Already we are applying our knowledge of mass take-up of solar PV systems to other parts of our network.
“Behavioural change strategies to reduce energy consumption and peak demand are being rolled out in broader community engagement initiatives,” he said.
Mr McLeod said the Solar City project is a strong demonstration of what can be achieved when a community works together with an electricity utility to create a new energy future.
“The project not only exceeded set goals but was one of the most successful of all the solar city projects. Our project demonstrated that a comprehensive community engagement program can make real change that benefits customers, electricity utilities and importantly the environment,” he said.
The project started in 2007 after a successful bid by the Ergon Energy - led consortium.
The project reduced peak demand on the island by 16 per cent down to 2005 levels. And the need to build a costly third submarine cable to the island has been deferred by at least eight years.
Greenhouse gas emissions also reduced by 53,000 tonnes – well ahead of the project’s initial target of 50,000 tonnes.
Mr McLeod said over 200 solar PV systems were installed and connected to Ergon Energy’s grid. As well more than1500 smart meters were installed on customers’ switchboards and 350 kilowatts of energy efficient light bulbs installed to replace old lights.
Several hundred of old inefficient appliances were replaced and removed from the island, a skate park facility for the community with solar panels was built and a building renovated which served as the project office and community information centre.
“The building will now be handed over to the council for community use,” he said, “and the solar panels will remain in place unless hosts wish them removed.”
The Solar City project outcomes will be reported in detail as part of an industry and community engagement workshop in Townsville in July.
The Townsville Queensland Solar City project is part of the Australian Government’s Solar Cities program which works with all levels of government, industry and the community to change the way we think about energy by employing non-network demand strategies to reduce electricity use and peak demand.
Solar City Magnetic Island Key Achievements:
Energy assessments to 82% of island customers
Average reduction in energy consumption per customer of 4.9% following energy assessment
Over 1500 smart meters installed
200 PV systems installed - 1068kW
350 kW of light bulbs replaced
53,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases avoided (target 50,400 tonnes)
Consumption - 40% less than business as usual (target 25% reduction)