Australian news, and some related international items

Totally Renewable Yackandandah leading Victorian town to 100% renewable energy

Victoria-sunny.psdA Yack attack on climate in Yackandandah,  TUCKED away in a picturesque nook of Victoria’s North East is a small town doing big things.June 7, 2016

RIAHN SMITHThe Weekly Times

Yackandandah — home to between 700 and 2200 people, depending on where you draw the town border — is one of dozens of communities across the country leading the way on renewable energy.

Its goal is ambitious: to be 100 per cent reliant on renewable energy sources by 2022.

At the helm is Matthew Charles-Jones, an environmental education teacher and former university lecturer who runs an education and accommodation facility at Falls Creek.

He’s a co-chair of Totally Renewable Yackandandah, or TRY as it is more familiarly known, a committee of about half a dozen passionate locals promoting the renewable energy message……

Although Matthew is quick to clarify the 100 per cent target is TRY’s goal and not the official town plan, if the yellow cardboard yaks popping up across the district are any indication, plenty of locals are signing up to the vision.

The Australian PV Institute tracks solar power installations across the country. Its most recent data shows 249 dwellings within the 3749 postcode (taking in Yackandah and Bruarong, a hamlet about 13km south) are producing their own solar energy, about 35 per cent of a combined 700 homes.

This, says Matthew, is up from 24 per cent when TRY entered the scene.

Yackandandah Health, a facility that provides aged care as well as a host of primary health services, was one of the first organisations to take up the mantle.

It has installed 348 solar panels to provide 90kW of power and reduce its annual greenhouse gas emissions by 115 tonnes — in real terms, the equivalent of taking 23 cars permanently off the road.

The system, which produces about a quarter of their electricity consumption, is also expected to save the non-profit, community-owned organisation $1 million over the next 25 years…….

While it is not uncommon for town-folk to be perceived as more progressive than their farming neighbours, around Yackandandah, farmers are also jumping on the bandwagon…….

Firm believers in solar energy’s ability to give a financial return to home and business owners, the TRY committee has established a “perpetual energy fund” to help further ease the cost concern, offering loans for people to install solar systems and then make repayments with the savings off their electricity bill.

It’s an initiative designed to fill the gap left by changes to Australian energy policy that have put solar energy, and renewables in general, on the back burner.

“We need such a massive amount of change in this sector and for me, our traditional institutions aren’t doing enough about it,” Matthew says.

“Around the world countries, communities and business are investing heavily in renewable energy but because there hasn’t been a clear, enduring policy in Australia and in that absence, investment in renewable energy collapsed…….

Yackandandah is not alone.

Matthew estimates there are nearly 80 communities across Victoria leading the way in renewable and community energy.

Closest to home is Newstead, a small town about a 15-minute drive from Castlemaine in central Victoria. Six years ago it announced its goal to be Australia’s first 100 per cent renewable energy town by 2021.

“They’re doing remarkable work,” says Matthew, while noting the town has been helped along by significant financial input from the Victorian Government…….

June 8, 2016 - Posted by | solar, Victoria

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