NSW to electrify entire communities in $8 million pilot program


The New South Wales (NSW) government will explore how households and communities can financially benefit from replacing fossil-fuelled devices with clean technologies including solar panels, batteries and electric vehicles (EVs) as part of a pilot program that will support the full de-carbonisation of three communities in the state.

The NSW government is planning to conduct a competitive process to partner with the private sector to test cost effective ways to upgrade to zero emissions homes in an urban, regional and remote community.

NSW Treasurer and Energy Minister Matt Kean said the falling price of clean technologies like rooftop solar, batteries and heat pumps is making it easier for households to save money on their energy bills while lowering their carbon footprint.

“This trial will focus on finding the best ways to save households money on their energy bills by installing zero emissions appliances and technologies,” he said. “This is all about using the latest technology to give people more control of their energy bills, while contributing to NSW’s target to reduce emissions by 70% by 2035.”

The pilot program will launch in the second half of 2023 and will be voluntary for households in the selected communities to join. The government did not identify the selected communities, simply saying it is important to trial the technologies across different communities.

Energy Minister Matt Kean announces the program in Thirroul on the NSW South Coast.

Image: Rewiring Australia

Independent research organisation Rewiring Australia has strongly endorsed the program, saying it will provide the proof of concept for community electrification.

Rewiring Australia co-founder and chief scientist, Dr Saul Griffith, said electrification using clean technologies that are already available is the fastest, cheapest way to combat inflation and decarbonise the economy.

Griffith said a pilot program would help Australian industry better understand and make the most of the technology transition and prepare the electricity network for future needs.

“The Australian people have the highest uptake of rooftop solar in the world, and they know that a small push from the government will allow them to go further by installing the batteries, electric cooktops, heaters and water systems that free them of fossil fuel emissions and bills,” he said. “Committing to this trial allows governments to foster the technology breakthroughs we know the world will need to dramatically reduce emissions by 2030.”

Dan Cass, executive director and co-founder of Rewiring Australia said he hoped the federal government would take inspiration from the NSW announcement and include funding for more community electrification pilots in the next budget.

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