How does this vision fit in with Government strategies…

 From The Renewable Energy Roadmap:- (submitted to Vic Gov 25 Sep 2015)

 “Victorian Government four priority areas”

 1. Transformation in the wholesale electricity market toward renewable energy.

  •  By enabling the energy spikes generated by renewables to be flattened stored and buffered at grid, utility, community and household levels.
  • By building community energy banks at a local level where substation co-located storage serves back the excess energy generated by households to its own community microgrid.
  •  To componentize to a sustainable distributed grid.


2. Reducing barriers to continued development of distributed generation and energy storage.

  •  By designing and building practical large scale operational storage models for training and development, (leveraging against ARENA funding and local electricity generation companies).
  •  By enabling research at university levels in electricity management and storage technologies and applications.  (leveraging against local university funding and local utility companies)
  • By training technicians in the maintenance and installation and control systems of energy storage devices at utility, community and household levels. (leverage local TAFE funding)
  • By enabling communities to host their own renewable provision.

3. Encouraging household and community development of renewable generation, products and services.

  • Building local community by a shared resource, (local substation grid, Community Energy Banks)
  • Training in development and implementation of community assets and co-operative models.
  • Encouraging local alternative manufacturing models, like the Earthworker hot water systems


4. Government support for renewable energy development, with a focus on job creation in Victoria.

 Immediate jobs:-

  • Construction and development
  • Research
  • Training
  • Installation/Maint
  • Operations
  • Admin
  • Control systems
  • Community organisors



Why The Latrobe Valley?

In 30 years the current coal fired power stations will be gone, they will have reached their End Of Life (EOL) a new industry must take its place.

The Latrobe Valley needs to transition towards something. Transitioning toward gives hope and brings the community along with it, transitioning from is a displacement of the community. In privatization the Community was displaced from the electricity generation on which they had built a stable and prosperous community culture that has lasted 80 years.

 The Latrobe Valley community is in crisis:  It desperately needs hope, jobs and better health.

 A large part of health, is societal, jobs and hope have marked effect on the health of a community as was highlighted in the expert reports to the HMFI-2 inquiry.


What can be  implemented here?

  •  Infrastructure is mostly already there

 The LaTrobe Valley has the academic infrastructure in place with Federation Uni, Tafe and extensive secondary colleges. Before privatization these facilities were supported and were supported by the local electricity industry, turning out engineers, technicians, tradesmen and operators with an expanding cohort in arts and services.

The State owned SEC provided a stable economic community well beyond the provision of a paypacket, the saying of the time was that it had techie jobs for techie folk, tradie jobs for tradie folk, and simple jobs for simple folk. Privatisation provided only for a minimum staffing of techie folk, tradie jobs were lost to multinational contractors, simple jobs were absorbed by multiskilling of remaining staff and the workers who had been deskilled in the process became unemployable in the area.

 Apprenticeships vanished and TAFE funding devastated by overservicing from big city training companies.


  • All (power) lines lead to  the valley.

 The infrastructure for power transmission exists and can be extended to provide storage.

 The Latrobe Valley is heavily cultured in ‘hands on’ heavy industry and peripheral services, so it is fortunate that not all storage methodologies are hydro and batteries. Just as water is a fluid and is used in hydro systems for differential energy storage, so is air. Compressed air storage facilities are heavy engineering of the type the Latrobe Valley has skills in. Large flywheels are also a mechanical storage device utilized to stabilize a grid system and store energy.  Building mechanical storage systems like these in the valley would be heavy engineering in an area that has both industrial space and skills.

 Energy storage is a rapidly emerging set of industries; any workable practical form of energy storage is saleable, so also are the skills to maintain and manage them. These are the essentials for the development of the distributed grid that we are inevitably heading towards. These mechanical developments are manufacturing opportunities for other parts of the state, from heavy foundry work components to management software.

 Batteries would play a major part, for example they are the go to technology for the community banks and probably the first choice of the utilities, but envisioning commercial manufacturing of batteries in competition with Silicon Valley and China is not a viable option in the forseeable future.

 Having said that it is around batteries that the first steps should be made, learning to hook a geographical community up to a shared resource into which they all contribute, measuring and regulating and billing are all skills that need to be acquired and passed on. In this way we build a people and an industry whilst transitioning both.

 A transition towards enabling renewables for the valley rather than a transition away from coal generation.

 How? It’s the carrot and the stick.



Possible Actions

     I.     Regulation:-

Mandate storage facilities at a utility or grid level

  • would provide a buffer  against system shortages
  • would decrease maintenance costs of base load stations (reduce system fluctuation and associated wear and tear)
  • reduce emissions from brown coal stations (reducing runups and shutdowns)
  • would encourage smaller remote renewables to interact with local community grids (storage capacity sharing)  creating and strengthening regional microgrid infrastructure and sustainability. Local use models.
  • would also offer opportunity to establish partnership with utilities for research facility
  • mechanical stabilization buffer for both Vic and Tas grid ( as Basslink joins grid at Latrobe Valley)
  • ongoing jobs: researching, designing,  building, operating, teaching of energy storage methods, plant and equipment.



   II.     Regulation and incentive :-

  • Allow Community energy to trade on the Victorian grid
  • Enable Community owned co-located storage in substations (Community Banks)
  • reduces need for upgrading lines and transformers,
  • lowers electricity costs to participating consumer.
  • Engages community.


Whilst the home power storage will inevitably come, it will not be affordable to lower socio economic groups, or renters, for a long time. One way to reduce costs within these demographic clusters or rural and remote clusters would be to reduce their power costs.

 At the moment households with solar panels get about 6c per unit and buy it back at around 32c. An energy storage system such as a household battery will alleviate this. However if it is not available or affordable at the household level then a communal energy bank could be installed at the local substation level.

 This would require co-location of hardware, (currently technology size is 1 or 2 self contained shipping containers) and agreement from the distribution companies that currently own and manage the substations. It would also require management software that accesses the meters and audits proportional usage etc.

 Some administrative structure will be required and whether that is a community owned co-operative, NGO or a local government  level, operation would have to be researched as well. If this was initially done locally in consultation with the 2 energy communities already funded by the state government then the skills required can be learnt from these groups and local companies like AGL who have already done federally funded research building these substation level setups in rural Victoria and suburban Melbourne.

 These setup skills, both technical and social can be learnt by doing and taught on to other communities. That then becomes the industry education product from this stream, technicians and community organisors and installers and enablers of renewable energy systems.

It does no good to bang our heads against the wall trying to compete with multinational mega-companies by attempting to manufacture battery technologies. In the same way as we did not manufacture our own turbines or generators, we can build an industry base around installing, maintaining, operation and application of the energy storage systems.


   III.     Incentive :-


Link in with Health Conservation Area as a trial area for Community Energy Banks,

  • Linking the 2 projects provides incentive for engagement with the Long Term Health Study, who are struggling to get the coverage required within budget, with an added aim of reducing electricity costs. It may also prove beneficial to be enabling solar panels in the area as well to increase participation and maximize results.
  • Provide the foundation for building both community bank creation and technical training courses.
  • Projects like locally made Earthworker hot water systems could also be incorporated into this holistic model.
  • Engage and empower the community and they will learn by doing.


   IV.     Targets :-

  • Enable enough capacity to replace some generators with renewables as they are taken offline at EOL. To make a visible and tangible connection between growth of renewables and coal generation replacement. For example- “we have replaced 3 Hazelwood generation units and allowed them to be decommissioned”. Visible tangible results that translate into relatable language for the general public.


    V.     Measurements:-

  • Community engagement levels
  • Measurable health (wellness) results.
  • Jobs created
  • Communities trained.
  • Communities connected.





Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.