The whole town is getting off the energy grid by setting up its own community-owned clean energy hubs.
The goal of powering Yackandandah with 100% renewable energy took a huge step forward earlier in the month with the opening of the town’s first community battery.
The launch of YackO1 – the town’s first piece of community-scale energy infrastructure – was a milestone. The 274kWh of storage has been paired up with a 65kW solar array on the roof of the old town sawmill. The battery will charge during the day and provide power to the town overnight. It will provide electricity to more than 40 households.
Yackandandah has set up its own community-owned solar energy grid, with the goal to power the whole town on renewable energy. To do this it set up community group, Totally Renewable Yackandandah (TRY), back in 2014 and then its own community-owned energy provider – Indigo Power, which is community-owned and volunteer-run.
The region collectively pays approximately $160 million a year in electricity bills. The goal of TRY, a Patagonia 1% For The Planet grantee, is to not only power the town with 100% renewable energy, but to also keep as much of that that $160 million in the town as possible.
“This flagship project connects the local community to locally generated, community-owned renewable energy.”
Ben McGowan joined TRY back in 2015 and is now Managing Director of Indigo Power. “This flagship project connects the local community to locally generated, community-owned renewable energy, from the solar panels during the day, and from the battery during the early evening rush and into the night,” he explained.
The battery was supported by $171,000 from the Victorian Government New Energy Jobs fund, a $100,000 loan taken out by Indigo Power and underwritten by Sustainability Victoria, as well as donations from philanthropists and the local community.
The new Indigo Power community battery installed in Yackandanda. Photo: Cam Suttie.
The concept of community battery storage is beginning to take hold around Australia, although Yackndandah is rare in the fact it’s also community-owned.
What’s happening in ‘Yack’ is being watched closely by neighbouring towns and right around the country. “Many communities across the North East are looking at what’s happening here in Yackandandah and saying they want something similar,” said Ben McGowan. “I think we’ll see many more community-scale batteries like this across our region.”
Find out more about TRY here.
Banner image – Yack's solar array as seen from the air. Photo: Cam Suttie.