Regional Victoria council adds 14.5kW solar system, on path to zero carbon

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Mount Alexander Shire to install 14.5kW solar PV on heritage listed visitor centre building, as part of zero carbon 2025 goal.

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One Step Off The Grid

A heritage listed building in the historic Victorian gold mining town of Castlemaine is hoping to cut its grid power consumption in half, and offset its air-conditioning costs, with the installation of a 14.5kW rooftop solar system.

The system, installed on the roof of the council owned Market Building in Castlemaine – which now serves as the local Visitor Information Centre – is expected generate around half of its electricity demand, and cut energy costs by around $5,000 each year.

Council said on Wednesday that the resulting power bill savings would be reinvested into further energy efficiency measures around the Mount Alexander Shire, which is working towards reduce operating costs and becomeing carbon neutral by 2025.

“The Market Building has a large roof area and is occupied nearly every day of the year with our Visitor Information Centre,” said Council’s acting director of sustainable development, Rebecca Stockfield.

“This makes it an ideal location to benefit from solar panels,” she said – as well as the need to offset the costs air-conditioning, with temperatures sometimes reaching 35°C inside.

“We recognise the historical value of the Market Building and are taking all precautions to protect its heritage while improving energy efficiency,” Stockfeld said.

To this end, the solar panels were installed so as not be visible from street level, and hidden by the parapet along the edge of the roof.

Council has experience installing rooftop PV on buildings with heritage value, including the Castlemaine Town Hall and Civic Centre.

Stockfield said the solar on the Civic Centre – a similar size to the Market Building system – had been reliably producing more than 20,000kWh of electricity a year; more than enough to power three average homes.

As we reported here, Mount Alexander rate payers have also embraced rooftop solar, with nearly 400 households from the shire registering to install a PV system in two rounds of a community-based solar bulk-buy initiative, called MASH.

The scheme, coordinated by not-for-profit group the Hub Foundation, offered locals access to quality approved rooftop solar at a bulk-buy price. It also offered the extra incentive to participants of promising to install two free solar systems on a community organisation after 100 systems had gone on rooftops.

This article was originally published on RenewEconomy’s sister site, One Step Off The Grid, which focuses on customer experience with distributed generation. To sign up to One Step’s free weekly newsletter, please click here.

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