Private community energy network for Qld town centre
Developer Sekisui House Australia and energy partner WINConnect share a common vision to make Ripley Town Centre in south-east Queensland the largest private community energy network in the state.
While the concept of embedded energy networks is not new, WINConnect Executive Chairman Tom Patsakos said Ripley Town Centre is the first ever township to commission one.
“To my knowledge, there is yet to be an entire town on a community energy network, excluding small mining towns,” he said.
“The reason it’s not common is because most developers don’t have the foresight that Sekisui House does to plan ahead. Most developers will engage a community energy network after they have already commenced construction, and by that stage it’s too late.
“While embedded energy networks have, over time, been designed to serve the purposes of the developer, our approach is to spread the value generated from the network equitably among key stakeholders, including the community.”
Sekisui House Australia Senior Development Manager Taku Hashimoto said Ripley Town Centre is making energy more affordable for its consumers.
“Consumers that are currently taking advantage of the network are realising savings of up to 25%, which may increase in time and create further savings through reduced rates and outgoings as the development grows and more sustainable solutions are realised,” he said.
“We have the ability to not only generate energy onsite via our solar structures, but purchase additional energy at the 11,000 V bulk rate and feed that power into the network — no energy leaves the community.”
A private energy sub-station was commissioned in 2018 — the network also makes use of the 480 kW solar panel system positioned on the roof of Ripley Town Centre and its carpark structure.
“With less capital expenditure, a community energy network removes the barriers that have historically prevented developers from investing in renewables and allows us to share the benefits of locally produced energy,” Hashimoto said.
“This is a long-term, sustainable solution for Ripley Town Centre and we believe this private community energy network is a first for a masterplan community. We truly want to be sustainable and use our network to give back to the community while reducing our overall carbon footprint.”