Strata solar in Qld

Story in SBS about how an Australian physicist found a way to shave 10% off his neighbours’ power bills.

Arkadiy Matsekh changed the billing system of the embedded network of his housing complex. As a result, his neighbours are saving up to 10 per cent on their power bills.

Dr Sturmberg believes that the greatest achievement of this particular body corporate is that the community was able to reach an agreement and embrace change.

“Dr Matsekh seems to have done a lot of work by actually talking to his neighbours and getting their support,” he says.

“The bigger impact of what he has done is not kilowatt-hours of solar that he has produced. But the social expectations that he is setting in his neighbourhood.

The message to the broader society says that ‘everyone deserves access to cheap and clean power’.

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Response to Saul Griffith’s “The Wires That Bind”

This correspondence was originally published in the June 2023 edition of the Quarterly Essay, in response to the March 2023 edition by Saul Griffith.

While the pivotal role of electrification in decarbonisation has been understood for decades, it has rarely been described as vividly or enthusiastically as by Saul Griffith in The Wires That Bind. Griffith recognises that electrification is a story, at its heart, not about decarbonisation but about cleaning the air in our kitchens and streets, improving the liveability of our homes and communities, and “keeping wealth in our households and communities” – and nation. In short, electrification is a story about a better future.

While attuned to this human story of electrification, Griffith is, at heart, an engineer so it’s no surprise that The Wires That Bind is packed full of figures. Emissions are carved up, the grid is mapped and fossil machines are counted. This achieves Griffith’s goal of “clarity about the job in front of us” and complements his persuasive case for electrifying everything. The question that remains is: how can the transition best be accelerated and steered towards just and enduring outcomes?

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Get in on the ground floor: how apartments can join the solar boom

While there are now more solar panels in Australia than people, the many Australians who live in apartments have largely been locked out of this solar revolution by a minefield of red tape and potentially uninformed strata committees.

In the face of these challenges, Stucco, a small co-operative housing block in Sydney, embarked on a mission to take back the power. Hopefully their experiences can serve as a guide to how other apartment-dwellers can more readily go solar.

Full piece in The Conversation

“Everyone’s a winner”: PICA Group secures Australian-first strata solar electricity deal

“I see this as everyone is a winner. The proposition for tenants is they don’t have to change anything that they are doing, they are just now having their electricity bills reduced and they also get to feel better by having that cheaper power also be cleaner power,” Dr Sturmberg said. 

“For generators, power purchase agreements (PPA) have been really quite an important way to de-risk their investments in their developments. 

“What is happening in that PPA is you’re locking in the rates all the consumers will be paying for that power – that means as a generator you have certainty.” 

Dr Sturmberg, who is also the founder of social enterprise SunTenants, says to date these types of energy deals have largely been driven by governments, despite demand from renters and smaller entities. 

“It is a really great way for consumers of electricity to have a more direct relationship or direct buying power towards renewables rather than just buying from the national electricity market,” he said. 

“PPAs have started to become more accessible to smaller entities and currently the ACT government has been extremely successful with its power purchase agreement. It’s made the Territory powered by 100 per cent renewable electricity and has in the process saved Canberra millions of dollars.”

Full article in The Fifth Estate here