A totally renewable future is within reach | OUR FUTURE

Anne Corcoran had to wait until 1963 before her home was connected to the electricity grid. But last month, the long-term Yackandandah resident chose to be part of a revolution. She switched on her new home energy system, complete with solar panels, batteries and a smart energy controller.

In Anne’s town, nestled among the picturesque hill country between Albury-Wodonga and the Victorian high country, critical milestones in the clean energy transition are emerging.

Behind this development are the University of Technology Sydney, Mondo Power and AusNet Power – who are overseeing the research program Anne is a part of – and the federal renewable energy-funding agency, ARENA. Their study is considering how renewable energy systems can contribute to a more inclusive, responsive and self-supporting electricity grid.

The benefits for Yackandandah residents has been cheaper bills, more reliable power and reduced carbon emissions.

Last year, more than half a megawatt of rooftop solar was added across the valley, pushing the installation density beyond 44 per cent of properties. It means residents can not only support the town’s goal of achieving 100 per cent renewable energy by 2022, but also take control of their own energy future. Houses that are part of the two micro-grids have been installed with solar panels, batteries and a control device which maximises performance. They now have reliable power in the event of an outage, emergency or extreme weather event.

What’s necessary for success is a shared vision that supports the community but, at the same time, works to reduce carbon emissions. For Australia, this shared vision requires co-operation between neighbours, business, industry and government at all levels. Fortunately, there are pioneering communities across Australia serving as beacons, with people who understand the risks of continuing reliance on fossil fuels.

Individuals everywhere are also acting – with more than 1.8 million rooftops currently sporting solar panels in Australia.

New energy efficiency technologies, affordable solar panels and rapidly falling battery prices are inviting us to engage with electricity in ways never before imaginable. So why not make now the time to act?

Systems have never been cheaper, options have never been greater, quality advice has never been more available, and the reasons for urgency have never been more pressing.

Matthew Charles-Jones is a member of Totally Renewable Yackandandah, a community group committed to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2022.