www.ecoinvestor.com.au November 2015


New Town May Be Energy-Independent

An investigation by Brookfield Energy Australia may enable the new Huntlee residential development in the NSW Hunter Valley to be built off-the-grid and powered by renewable energy.

Huntlee, developed by LWP Property Group, will be the first new town in the Hunter Valley in 50 years and will house 20,000 new residents in 7,500 homes. A $1.1 million study into whether it can run off the grid has received $442,000 in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

ARENA chief executive, Ivor Frischknecht said substantial connection costs and the falling cost of renewable energy make it a good time to explore the option of forgoing grid connection. "If this latest work shows renewables, battery storage and enabling technologies can reliably and cost effectively power new suburbs, it could set a precedent for residential developments and potentially accelerate the uptake of renewables in Australia," he said.

Brookfield has for a number of years been investigating ways to incorporate cutting-edge renewable technology into the infrastructure of the town, and it now has the possibility of developing Australia's first town-scale greenfield microgrid with all the advantages that will bring to residents and commercial operators.

Brookfield Energy chief executive, Richie Sheather said his firm sees an emerging competitive market for large-scale local microgrids leveraging high penetration renewable energy. But there are regulatory constraints and technical risks facing microgrids, and Brookfield will share with the energy industry its key insights about how to overcome these barriers.

"Our goal is to develop a model that has 10 times the penetration of renewables for the equivalent cost of energy. Proving this can be done technically and commercially will be a real step change for embedded renewables in this country," said managing director of Flow Systems, Terry Leckie. Flow Systems is a Brookfield company heading Brookfield's sustainable multi-utility initiative in Australia.

Huntlee Project Director Stephen Thompson said Huntlee would be an entirely master-planned community designed for 21st Century living and will have the very latest in renewables to help ensuring town's future. "If the proposed model for Huntlee is successful, it will positively influence the nature of housing, employment, business, transportation and education for our future residents," he said.






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