Community Resilience and Reliable Energy Feasibility Study
In July 2022 we launched our year long project to investigate Venus Bay's future energy prospects through the lens of community resilience. You can read much more about the project on the Venus Bay Community Centre website. This piece captures the three investments we are trying to run in parallel, in order to make the most of the community leadership we anticipate over the next year:
Starting the Conversation:
The Venus Bay Community Centre recently commissioned a proof-of-concept islandable solar and battery system which will provide energy when the grid goes down, allowing residents access to water, fridges, cooking, heating and cooling. The system is also an energy literacy resource to build knowledge and awareness across the community of renewable energy options and provides the mediating space for engaging community in co-designing solutions for the broader community. The system gives us an immediate mini example for discussing resilience. What do you need to do that requires energy? and when do these needs become essential? It will also be a fabulous community resource whenever the community centre is the only place in town with power.
Under the Preparing Communities Program of the Federal Government, Venus Bay received a $195,000 grant to work with our community to 1) Define the energy needs for community resilience; 2) Develop options for stand alone power supplies; 3) Provide a business case and delivery pathway and 4) Agree a community action plan to implement the preferred designs.
We've been applying for grants to invest immediately in priority sites, as identified in the early stages of the community-led design. The initial investment would become a means of self-funding future investments as initial systems are repaid from energy savings. We propose to build solar-battery installs to meet the community’s power needs during outages and to respond to our unique situation. For example, powering the cluster of shops, the caravan park or the surf club as the next resilient energy asset for our community. We will create a financial model (equipment leases or power purchase agreements) that can deliver a funding stream to help scale up our efforts and fund the longer term ambition of reforming our energy use and generation assets into a whole-of-community physical or virtual renewable microgrid.
You can join the project mailing list to get regular updates and get involved directly.
check out Saul Griffith's new book and website for Rewiring Australia. Electrifying everything is a likely trend but it will work against regional communities like Venus Bay who rely on diverse sources of energy for resilience. How do you think we might solve this challenge?
check out the Innovate to Regenerate program by World Wildlife Fund. While we were unsuccessful in our grant application to these guys, it is a great initiative that will help stimulate plenty of excellent projects.
check out the Knowledge Resources on this community energy wiki. No matter where you are in your journey, there are like minds who have been exploring similar territory. Our resources are packed with case studies, webinars and toolkits.