A large-scale Virtual Power Plant (VPP) is set to be rolled out across 40 council owned buildings in Melbourne’s Hobson Bay area to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Hobson Bay City said it is striving to achieve the goal of zero net greenhouse gas emissions for the Council by 2020 and for the wider community by 2030 through the VPP program and the installation of new solar panels.

The contract value and scope, as well as the details of the successful tenderer, will be announced once the contract has been finalised.

The VPP will generate almost 4MW of solar power, enabling the council to share energy from under-utilising solar energy sites with those that require more. 

The solar energy system will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 4,000 tonnes per annum, or up to 55 per cent of the council’s direct emissions over the coming two years, which is equivalent to taking almost 600 homes off the grid.

The VPP also enables the council to install systems on tenanted buildings, with both the Hobson Bay Council and the tenant benefiting financially from the investment. Tenants will have the ability to purchase solar energy at a discounted rate providing both financial and environmental benefits.

The project will generate substantial year on year savings for the local council by reducing energy costs, which is money that can then be put back into the community through the delivery of services and programs. The project also features a ‘pay back’ within nine years, which is similar to a residential solar installation.

Importantly, it is a future proofed project, with longer term opportunities for the community to participate in what will become a Hobsons Bay Community Solar network. This could enable anyone to opt-in to be a producer of energy, a user of energy, or both. Under this model, community cost savings will grow even further.

An extensive community consultation program will commence in the coming months to invite Hobsons Bay community members to have input into the design of the VPP model. This will help determine how the benefits are shared across the community.

Mayor of Hobsons Bay, Colleen Gates, said the program was a first for a council in the metro Melbourne area and was an innovative way to address climate change.

“Our solar project has been developed in response to the community feedback we received through our Hobsons Bay 2030 Community Vision,” Ms Gates said.

“I’m really pleased that we will be able to share the benefits of this project with community groups, sports clubs and other tenants of our buildings – not only from a carbon emission reduction perspective but also in helping them save costs. What is also exciting is that residents of Hobsons Bay will also have the opportunity to become part of the VPP.”

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