City council provides free rooftop system as part of solar program

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The City of Yarra, located in inner Melbourne, announced this week a 4 kW rooftop solar PV system will be donated to a community organisation as part of the Yarra Solar Program, which is overseen by the Yarra Energy Foundation (YEF).

YEF senior project manager Peter Mercouriou said the program donates 1 kW of solar to a local community organisation for every 100 kW installed in the LGA.

Mercouriou said more than 400 kW of solar had been installed across 100 Yarra rooftops in recent months, meaning one free 4 kW rooftop solar system is now up for grabs.

To be eligible, organisations must be a not-for-profit community organisation based in the City of Yarra, must benefit the community members, own its building or be able to gain landlord approval to install solar panels, and have a rooftop suitable for solar modules.

The giveaway is the second for the YEF-operated program with a 5 kW solar system donated to the Collingwood Children’s Farm in 2020.

Mercouriou told pv magazine the program, which delivers discounted prices on solar products and identifies preferred solar installers, had proven a winner with the Yarra community with more than 100 households taking advantage of it since its inception, despite the challenges presented by the inner-city location and the Covid-19 pandemic.

“There are certainly some interesting challenges with inner-city ,” he said, highlighting the high percentage of rentals, heritage considerations and architectural constraints.

“But considering that, we had a really good result. We rolled out the program in mid-2019 and in early 2020 we were well ahead of our benchmark. Obviously, things slowed a bit but there is certainly more interest now.”

Mercouriou said the program, a part of the city’s transition towards a 100% renewable future, had increased the penetration of solar in Yarra “by more than 4% in about eight months”.

The success of the Yarra Solar Program follows that of the statewide Solar Homes program, a 10-year initiative designed to provide cheaper, cleaner energy sourced through rebated solar PV, solar batteries and solar hot water.

Solar Victoria said more than 110,000 Victorians had accessed the Solar Homes program since its launch in August 2018 with the latest data from the program showing there are now 510,000 small-scale solar PV systems in Victoria – all together they generate almost a third of the state’s total residential electricity demand, with more than 15,000 households also having a solar battery.

The YEF is doing its bit to assist those in inner-city Melbourne access battery storage, partnering with CitiPower to create a community battery network in the Melbourne CBD and inner-city suburbs.

The aim is to create a network of batteries, or ‘solar sponges‘, located on the low-voltage electricity network across inner-Melbourne operated by CitiPower which services 332,000 customers. 

The project’s first phase is already underway with sites being identified, developing financial modelling and relationships with market service providers including energy retailers. The first of the batteries is expected to be deployed in late 2021.

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