More than 20 municipal governments in Victoria have taken a significant step forward in shaping the way new apartment property developments could be better for both residents and the environment. This is a huge step in the right direction, and thankfully the team at Allume Energy are in a great position to support developers in meeting these proposed changes with our rooftop solar solution for new apartment developments.
Few people have as much influence in shaping cities as property developers. They take an old building or a parcel of land, and then build homes, retail spaces and offices. These new buildings will be around for many decades to come and leave a lasting impact on the neighbourhood. Whether that impact is a net positive or detrimental to the community depends on a lot of factors. One way that government can ensure that the new apartment developments improve amenity and are comfortable and liveable for their residents that live in them, is through regulations in planning schemes.
In Victoria, Australia, 24 municipal governments have joined to support a “Zero Carbon Developments Joint Planning Scheme Amendment” (JPSA). The effort has been coordinated by the Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment, which has been toiling on this for years, and ensuring the amendments received endorsement from all of the councils.
Under the proposed changes, new apartment buildings and commercial and industrial developments would need to:
> Produce net zero carbon emissions, to reduce climate impact.
> Make buildings more energy efficient, to keep electricity running costs low.
> Better manage water quality, use and collection, to help clean-up our waterways.
> Protect and enhance greening and biodiversity to support pollinators (bees) and keep buildings cool.
> Be more resilient to changing climate impacts.
This is great news, and a step in the right direction for ensuring that apartment buildings in Melbourne and Victoria’s regional cities are easier and cheaper to cool in summer, heat in winter, and are more comfortable for their residents while treading lightly on the environment.
When it comes to renewable energy, the JPSA is strong on ambition. It proposes that new apartment developments have rooftop solar installed with a minimum of:
> 1 kilowatt of solar panel capacity per dwelling; or,
> 25 watts of solar panel capacity per square metre of the building’s footprint.
Allume Energy recommends 1kW of solar capacity per dwelling as a minimum amount that will make a significant difference to electricity bills. The JPSA is therefore in line with our customer guidance. For example, if 10 apartments share at least 10kW of rooftop solar through our SolShare hardware, their electricity bills will reduce by around a third. If they share 20kW, the savings will be between 40 and 50%.
Why is this impact so high, compared to detached home solar installations that are typically 5kW in size? The SolShare constantly monitors electricity consumption by the apartments and sends any generated electricity to the customers that are using power at that point in time, so the solar power supply to an individual apartment is not capped at 1kW.
The 24 municipal governments submitted their proposal to the the Victorian Minister for Planning, the Hon. Lizzie Blandthorn MP, on 21 July. The Minister will need to approve a public exhibition of the proposed changes. If approved, there will be a consultation process that will take at least 6 months. Members of the public will have the opportunity to have their say on the changes. The amendments will then be finalised and put to the Minister for Planning for approval.
If the changes go through, nearly all new apartment buildings will need to meet these standards. If that is something you want to see, make your voice heard if and when the amendments go to public consultation.
If you are looking to develop an apartment building, a good resource on achieving zero carbon developments is provided by the City of Moreland and be sure to contact us to learn how we can help connect the apartment to shared solar.
With more and more people around the world driving Electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles, governments, councils and building owners are having to find ways to implement EV chargers to accommodate them. In this drive to be more sustainable, it raises questions such as whether it’s possible to have a solar EV charger? And if it is, can you have solar power if you live in an apartment or flat? And of course, whether there are other benefits apart from the environmental impact?
These kinds of questions were recently touched on by The Guardian in their recent article on the hurdles apartment dwellers face when it comes to installing EV chargers, where our very own ‘SolShare’ was featured as a potential solution.
For many, the reason they decide to opt for an EV is that it’s better for the environment. No expensive petrol, no fumes in our neighbourhoods, fewer greenhouse gas emissions – it’s a win-win. Charging an EV with solar power makes it even more appealing.
A solar EV charger allows you to charge your vehicle with the solar panels attached to your roof and top it up with energy from the grid when necessary. Some independent chargers even have solar panels attached to them. In terms of appearance, they’re pretty similar to regular EV chargers but there are a lot of benefits to them for both the environment and the vehicle owner.
For many years it was very difficult, if not impossible, for apartment-dwellers to change their electricity system, install a solar EV charging station, or benefit from solar energy at all. Owners and companies believed these changes to be too expensive and unnecessary – but that’s changing. The SolShare is the world’s only hardware that allows multiple apartments to share a single rooftop solar system for an affordable price. Residents (and owners) get to reap the benefits this brings, including installing EV charging stations that run on solar power.
The EV charging stations can be wired in two ways:
So what happens if you have an EV but your neighbour doesn’t? They’re probably not going to be happy paying for their petrol while also using less solar than you because you’re using up all the solar power to charge your car. Thankfully the SolShare automatically registers the amount of solar energy that each apartment receives in a month and can ensure that every unit connected to the system receives the same. So even if one neighbour charges their car, and the others are only home before and after work – everyone gets the same solar benefit.
If the EV chargers are connected to the Common Light and Power, then there are some companies providing a billing service to ensure that the Owners Corporation (also known as a Strata Community or Homeowners Association) recoups the cost of charging from the EV owner on a user pays basis.
Whether they want to or not, property owners can’t deny that the world is changing. Governments are being voted in that have a clearer and greener plan for the future and people have a wider selection of EVs to choose from. As an example Ford has announced that all vehicles sold in Europe will be electric by 2030 and General Motors has said that their factories will only produce electric vehicles by 2035. The European Union recently banned the sale of vehicles that use petrol or diesel from 2035.
So this trend is only going to keep on growing.
The more common it is for people to own EVs the more normal it will be for them to expect a solar EV charger in their home or complex. Property owners who have the intention of renting and who haven’t installed a vehicle charger will be losing out on potential renters or current tenants will leave. As well as this, with rising energy costs – tenants may start looking for complexes where they’ll have access to rooftop solar to help reduce their energy bills.
For many, the worry comes when they think about how solar panels or a solar energy sharing system will change the appearance of their property. Luckily, the SolShare system is discrete and, as the Guardian describes it, ‘about the size of a computer’.
If you’re an EV driver, property owner, or council and you’re considering installing a solar-powered EV charging system then get in touch with us today. We’ll be happy to talk you through the SolShare and how this unique system can help make installing eco-friendly EV chargers easier and the added benefits it will bring.
There’s been a lot of media coverage recently over the unprecedented turmoil in Australia’s energy markets. A combination of factors has caused the steepest increase in wholesale prices for electricity and gas ever experienced, and these high prices are expected to continue well into 2023. While this will have an impact on all households across Australia, one of the hardest hit by the rising energy costs will be those in social housing.
The causes of these increases are due to our reliance on fossil fuels and an ageing grid:
Authorities responsible for price regulation have already approved massive increases to Default Market Offers (the standard electricity contract for homes and small businesses) from 1 July. South Australia’s prices will be going up 20%, Queensland’s by 18%, and New South Wales customers will be hit with a 12% increase.
Research has shown that people on lower incomes spend a larger share of their money on energy bills than people on higher incomes. For the top 20%, energy bills only take up 1-2% of their monthly income. For the bottom 20% of income-earners, energy bills eat up 7% of their monthly budget, and that’s before the energy tariffs are hiked up on 1 July.
When low-income people face massive increases in energy bills, they face stark choices: feed the kids or let them go hungry, pay the rent or fall into arrears with the landlord, or pay the power bill or get threatened with disconnection. Energy hardship payments don’t automatically get increased when power prices rise. This is a situation faced by a million Australians each month, and that number is only going to get higher.
Allume’s existing customer base of over 1000 apartments with rooftop solar, including over 600 social housing dwellings, have the best defence against these steep increases: rooftop solar. Prior to the energy crisis, these residents were already saving around $300-$350 per year compared to the default offer provided by electricity retailers. Now that is set to surge to between $400 and $500 per year. That’s a lot of money for someone on the pension, JobSeeker or the minimum wage.
Considering that it costs next to nothing to maintain a rooftop solar installation, these increased savings on electricity bills will only accelerate the payback period for the capital outlay. To put that in other terms: investing in rooftop solar is now more financially attractive than ever before.
City West Housing is a leading Community Housing Provider in NSW. They connected rooftop solar to 226 apartments in three apartment complexes in their portfolio with Allume’s SolShare technology. See the video below for the real-world benefits experienced by the residents in City West Housing’s Carriageworks community in Everleigh in Sydney’s inner west.
How can we connect as many people as possible as quickly as possible to rooftop solar?
Shared solar installations using Allume’s SolShare technology can connect more people to rooftop solar people in low-income communities per dollar spent than any other approach. Government subsidies can leverage co-investment by Community Housing Providers to get rooftop solar installed as soon as possible.
Successful examples of this approach include Solar Victoria’s rebate of up to $1,400 per dwelling for the installation of rooftop solar by Community Housing Providers. Housing authorities in the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia have outright funded rooftop solar installations on public housing. The City West Housing installations were funded by the NSW Government, but this funding program has since closed.
We need these programs to be continued, expanded and replicated by other states and the Commonwealth Government so we can ensure that the energy crisis doesn’t hurt vulnerable people who are least able to endure it.
If you’d like to find out if the SolShare will be suitable for your new or existing community housing project, get in touch with the team today.
Allume Energy was privileged to be invited to the recent RealtechX ESG Impact Showcase in Melbourne. We had representatives from our Commercial, Tech and Service teams in attendance, along with a real life Solshare!
The event focused on ‘innovations for more sustainable resources’ in industry. ISPT’s Daryl Browning opened the night by sharing his experiences and challenges when it came to pushing for more sustainability focused real estate assets, and also how he fell into the realm of sustainability as a whole.
The ensuing round table discussion provided inspiration for change in the sector, with Vicinity Centres’ Nick Irvine and ISPT’s Renee Nutbean and Steven Peters discussing and comparing ESG strategies from their respective organisations, with plenty of realised data to back up their implemented strategies.
The night was rounded out by enjoying the niceties of Foy’s Arcade and networking with highly skilled entrepreneurs and ESG advocates. There were plenty of organisations on show, with a number of sustainability technologies presented that will no doubt be seeing a lot more of in the coming years.