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  • Vic Park Community Centre

Renewable energy for homes and communities

Babies and solar panels, what a combination to renew our hopes in the future!

Our Centre was taken over by renewable energy talk on Saturday, November 14, and we were thrilled to have some of the future generations attending. What we do now in regards to energy will determine how they live years from now.

We started the day with a workshop by Mark Taylor, engineer and principal at Josh Byrnes Associates, about the basics of Solar Homes.

Mark covered a lot of ground in a bit over an hour, talking about how to make the most of solar energy in our homes, and a future where batteries will be a normal part of life -- or, maybe, where our electric vehicles will function as a storage for the energy generated by our solar panels!

Then in the afternoon, we invited some experts in to talk about how communities may choose to invest and own in renewable energy assets.

The Community Renewable Projects was a partnership with the Vic Park Collective to start a conversation about community investing in our area.

Ben Bristow, Head of Grid Transformation at Western Power, presented on the South West Interconnected System -- also know as "the grid" -- and how it is being transformed through distributed energy resources such as household solar and community batteries. He also spoke about the future of the system, including continued use of standalone power systems for "fringe-of-grid" locations.

James Giblin, New Energy Manager at Synergy with his own background in community energy projects, explained some of the challenges of renewable energy, and how these are being addressed through projects such as the Government Energy Transformation Strategy and Synergy's Big Battery and PowerBanks. He also gave examples of the different ways communities can get their motors running and work in parallel with the bigger players, such as through collective purchasing of home batteries and electrification.

Vinod Tiwari, Business Development Lead at Power Ledger, presented a series of examples of work being done by Power Ledger. Their global projects in embedded networks allow households and businesses to trade energy, sharing power amongst everyone, and include a trial in White Gum Valley, near Fremantle, for homes with and without solar panels.

Emilia Lawonski, a volunteer director with the Fremantle Community Wind Farm and sustainability consultant, ran through examples of community energy projects around Australia, including the Denmark Wind Farm, heralded as a success in community investing and ownership of energy assets. Emilia also talked about pain points for community groups interested in following Denmark's lead.

Finally, local Joni Sercombe shone a light on examples of community investment around the world, including community gardens in American food deserts, and a wind-powered, community-owned distillery in Scotland, a favourite with attendees.

Joni is collecting details of locals interested in pulling resources together to invest in enterprises they want to see flourish in Vic Park. If you are interested in joining the list, drop us a line and we'll put you in contact with her.

It was great to bunker down at the Centre on an unusual rainy November day to talk about our energy future. Vic Park is lucky to have a solid, reliable supply of electricity, with many households opting for solar energy. Whatever we choose to do as a community in that space, we hope we can contribute to an efficient and equitable electricity system for all.

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