Coal mining museum powered by solar PV and battery storage

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A black coal mine in Wonthaggi, which today operates as a state park and tourist attraction, will from now on be powered by a ground-mounted solar PV array and a battery storage system installed on site. The Old Energy New Energy Project, run by the not-for-profit Energy Innovation Co-op and supported by the Victorian government, aims to demonstrate how renewable energy, energy efficiency and new technology are changing the game.

The project involves the installation of 91 kW of solar PV and 41 kWh of battery storage at the State Coal Mine, which is today run by Parks Victoria. Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio, who attended the launch on Friday, said the renewable energy upgrade was made possible with a funding boost of over $241,000 from the state Labor Government’s New Energy Jobs Fund.

“It’s great to see a facility that was once used to mine coal now leading the way when it comes to renewable energy in tourism,” said Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio. “We want to see more sites like this one transition to renewables – we’re delivering the investment needed to support that transition.”

The black coal mine, which was operational up until 1968, is the only historic coal mine experience in the Southern Hemisphere which offers tourists a journey back in time to see what life was like working in a coal mine in the 1900s.

The renewable energy project launched on site is expected to become a template for the roll-out of renewable power generation to other tourism sites in Victoria. Expressing gratitude to the Energy Innovation Co-operative for initiating the project, Member for Bass Jordan Crugnale said Bass is doing its bit to bring down emissions and tackle climate change.

In a further demonstration of its green energy commitment, the the Bass Coast Shire Council unveiled a new solar project on Friday – a 100 kw solar PV system on the Wonthaggi Civic Centre. The installation is set to save the council almost $40,000 a year on energy bills.

The project received $58,460 in funding from the Victorian government’s Local Government Energy Saver Program – a $3.4 million fund which supports resource constrained councils across regional Victoria to reduce their energy consumption and operating costs of community facilities.

“We’re helping regional councils take control of their energy costs – so they can invest more in the essential services their communities need,” said D’Ambrosio, noting that local councils are playing a critical role towards achieving a target of zero net emissions by 2050.

A further $15,000 grant from the state government supporting Bass Coast Shire Council in their goal to transition the community to zero-net emissions will support the expansion of work already started by the coastal community of Phillip Island, which has made a commitment to being carbon neutral by 2030.

With renewable energy targets of 25% by 2020 and 40% by 2025 already legislated, the Victorian Labor government is providing funding for clean energy with an eye on a 50% Victoria’s Renewable Energy Target (VRET) by 2030 pledged in the November state election campaign.