In a first for Australia, an ambitious community project aims to turn Brookvale into an urban renewable energy zone. The community is invited to the launch at 4 Pines Brewing Company with Craig Reucassel, Zali Steggall MP and Michael Regan in attendance.
Imagine this, asks the Solar Alliance. “A clean, green, mini-power plant in the city where local businesses get paid for energy they collect from their roof; where cars and trucks are powered by the sun; where residences and businesses share energy storage; where having solar panels on your roof is not just smart, it’s normal.” Now imagine that city is Brookvale!
“Brookvale is already a powerhouse for renewable energy. There are panels on car showrooms, hotels and office blocks, boutique brewers and coffee roasters. But there is room for so much more. If we can cover 50% of Brookvale’s suitable roofs we’ll have 70,000 solar panels producing up to 20 mW. That’s the size of a small power station.”
That’s the ambitious but very exciting goal of the Solar Alliance, and it looks set to happen. The Solar Alliance has partnered with a number of local businesses, including 4 Pines Brewing Company. 4 Pines will host the project launch at the Truck Bar on Monday 28 February at 5pm, MC’d by Craig Reucassel (ABC TV). Zali Steggall MP and Michael Regan, Mayor of Northern Beaches Council, will be in attendance, and Rob Stokes MP will send a video message of support.
The Full Solar Story: What is A Renewable Energy Zone?
Renewable Energy Zones (REZs) are modern-day power stations. They combine renewable energy generation such as wind and solar, and storage such as batteries. By connecting multiple generators and storage in the same location, REZs capitalise on economies of scale to make clean, green electricity cheap and reliable.
The state government’s infrastructure roadmap has identified at least five REZs across the state and has been overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response from developers of wind, solar and storage projects. To date, all REZs are in regional NSW, but now a collaboration between community groups and local businesses is hoping to create the first Urban Renewable Energy Zone.
How Did Brookie Become Solar Central?
“When you look at Brookvale Industrial Precinct from above you see masses and masses of roofs, low flat roofs with a gentle incline,” says Chris Lee, retired construction engineer and volunteer. “Over one third of the area is rooftop, and about ¾ of this is suitable for PV panels in terms of slope, orientation and shading. That makes a massive 40 hectares of panels, or the equivalent of a solar farm the size of 30 Brookvale ovals, 120,000 solar panels, with a capacity of 38MWp. For comparison, the peak daily power consumption of the commercial area is a bit under half that.”
Several local businesses in Brookvale – including 4 Pines Brewing Company, Colormaker, Col Crawford Cars and Hardware & General — have already installed massive solar panel arrays, indicating how renewable energy represents a strategic business advantage. Now two local community organisations have formed the Solar Alliance to help businesses of all sizes across Brookvale make the transition to solar power and drive renewable energy uptake as the first step towards making a UREZ a reality.
Who’s Behind the Solar Alliance?
The Solar Alliance is a collaboration between two award-winning not-for-profits Clean Energy for Eternity – Northern Beaches (CEFE NB) and Zero Emissions Sydney North (ZESN). Volunteers from CEFE NB and ZESN have been working throughout 2021 to develop a vision for Brookvale to be a renewable energy zone and, more importantly, how to make it happen.
“Businesses want to take advantage of new technology, and they want to do the right thing,’ says Harriet Cunningham, from Zero Emissions Sydney North, ‘but it takes time and money to nut out an infrastructure project, and that’s something that small businesses are short on. The Solar Alliance puts businesses together with volunteer project managers who can help assess the roof, negotiate with the landlord, put together the finance and assess quotes from installers. These project managers — Solar Ambassadors — have no commercial interest, and are not attached to any particular installer. They are passionate about sustainability and just want to help with Australia’s transition away from fossil fuels.”
What’s Happening: Solar Alliance Brookvale Powerhouse Launch
Where: The Truck Bar, 4 Pines Brewing Company, Brookvale, NSW
When: Monday 28 February at 5pm
This event has limited numbers, so please pre-register your attendance: https://events.humanitix.com/powerhouse-brookvale-launch
Want to know about other great events happening locally? Check out our running list: https://northernbeachesliving.com.au/events-are-back-on-the-beaches/