Geelong residents and businesses are embracing the solar revolution in their thousands. They are well-supported both by the City of Greater Geelong and passionate local people. This combination of local government and community appears to be a winning formula for encouraging individual households to take up renewable energy, as well as sparking larger innovative projects.
The City is busy installing solar panels on its iconic buildings. These include, among others, City Hall, the National Wool Museum and Leisurelink Aquatic Centre in Grovedale, where an installation of 100 kilowatts of solar has just been completed. Further solar projects are planned this year. These initiatives plus energy efficiency upgrades in the facilities are designed to fulfil the City’s Zero Emissions Carbon Strategy and halve its emissions by 2020. Of course, the fact that well-used public buildings are solar-powered and saving energy also provides a great example for everyone else.
ReEnergise Geelong is a prominent community group, working in partnership with the City and other organisations, to promote renewable energy. Currently, the group is offering Geelong Solar Steps, a free email short-course for residents to get started on solar and a vetted list of trustworthy local suppliers.
Geelong Sustainability is another volunteer group working closely with the City and ReEnergise Geelong. Its mission is to promote sustainability generally, but it is also proving to be one of the most capable community energy groups in the state. One of its main projects is Community Owned Renewable Energy: CORE Geelong, ‘enabling community investment in renewable energy projects that are financially self-supporting and return economic as well as social benefits to the community.’ This project is establishing a solar financing model to take on large solar and wind projects and is even keen to set up a community-owned electricity retailer. Geelong Sustainability recently partnered with The People’s Solar, another forward-thinking initiative which crowdfunds small-scale community solar projects, to install solar panels on the roof of South Geelong Primary School. This project was also supported by the City of Greater Geelong through Cleantech Innovations Geelong, a partnership between the City, the Geelong Manufacturing Council and the state government.
So, the close-knit Geelong community is clearly working hard – and together – to create a sustainable city. We also appreciate that they make the effort to share their lessons and inspire other regions, including WAGA.
Photo: 300 solar panels on the roof of Leisurelink Aquatic Centre, Grovedale
(Thanks to SolarQuotes and its blog post which inspired this article. Thanks also to Dan Cowdell at Geelong Sustainability for alerting us to it.)