For years, people, businesses, and companies have relied on big electricity companies for their main source of energy but the high energy prices and frequent blackouts are encouraging communities to take power into their own hands. Tyalgum a bohemian town in the East Coast hinterland of Australia is a good example of how communities are accepting this new trend. As the global community dilly dallies on matters of climate change, the local community in Tyalgum takes global warming very seriously. The locals are greatly concerned about the rising temperatures and carbon emissions. They no longer want to rely on coal-fired power stations for their electricity.
In fact, the locals in Tyalgum are not the only ones. People across the world have grown frustrated with the governments as they continue to drag their feet in investing in renewable energy and developing environmental policy. Australia deeply relies on fossil fuels with about 90 percent of the country’s energy generation being from coal, gas, and oil. Moreover, as other countries continue to invest in 100 percent renewable energy, Australia federal government is contemplating on building a massive coal mine in the northeast of the country. Whenever there is a debate about the high-volatile power prices, politicians recommend the construction of more coal-burning power plants. In fact, the deputy prime minister in 2017 said he would only support clean energy targets if they included coal.
However, the climate change is real and Australia is feeling the effects. With increasing statewide blackouts, unstable energy prices, and a fierce debate over fossil fuels, more Australians want to take action on electricity and the people of Tyalgum are leading the way. The town has invested in an ambitious Tyalgum Energy Project with an aim of powering the entire town with 100 percent renewable energy. The community also plans to sell the excess power to the neighboring communities. Another town, the Lismore became the first community to use renewable energy when they switched to a community-owned solar project in January. The trend to take back the power is expected to continue as more communities start building community-owned solar projects and individual homeowners continue installing solar panels. What is encouraging the new energy change?
The will to go off the grid
With the country experiencing the highest solar radiation per square meter according to Geoscience Australia, the businesses and individuals are beginning to take advantage of the readily available sunshine. Some of the big businesses that are converting to solar energy include the Elon Musk’s Tesla, the AGL that plans to convert its coal-fired power stations into a clean energy hub, and the Carlton United Breweries that seeks to source its electricity from renewable sources. In fact, new companies such as the PowerLedger are making it easier for homeowners to sell their solar-generated power to neighbors.
However, despite more Australians investing in renewable sources, a section of conservative politicians warn against demonizing coal but businesses and individuals are expected to continue turning away from the power companies as they seek for certainty over power. The politicians fear is that solar energy is not completely sustainable and reliable as coal power. To mitigate any likely challenge, most businesses and individuals are investing in more efficient portable generators. Depending on individuals and business needs, the generators come with different features such as running watts, starting watts and estimated runtime load and thus, it is important you refer to generator buying information resources such as the generatorgrid.com to help you get the best value from your investment. For towns and communities like Tyalgum that are still served by the mainstream grid, they can choose to go grid neutral or grid positive. Grid neutral is when they use their own renewable power while the grid positive is when they maintain their grid connection to enable them to sell the surplus electricity back to the national grid. For emergency and portable uses, individuals and businesses are opting for more efficient generators.
Off-grid by necessity
A town like Coober Pedy has always been off the grid by necessity and not the choice. The town has always relied on a 3.9 MW diesel power station and expensive diesel fuel for energy but that is changing thanks to the Coober Pedy Renewable Hybrid Power Project. With extreme hot weather conditions that push above 40 degree Celsius or 104 degrees Fahrenheit, the community is turning to cleaner energy sources. The hybrid power project that brings together 1MW of solar, 4 MW of wind and a 500 kWh battery, the project provides about 70 percent of the town energy needs. Other similar projects are also taking place in other remote communities such as the king island and the kangaroo island with the aim of making energy in those remote communities more self-sustaining.
Although investing in a solar project that generates adequate power to be self-sustaining is expensive, the towns like Tyalgum and Coober Pedy are a proof of how investing in a cleaner energy can transform the community. Investing in solar energy also allows individuals and community to sell the excess power back to the national grid. Clean energy projects like the Tyalgum Energy Project are not only about cheap power but represent a major shift in thinking towards a better future. To most Australians, the move to renewable energy sources cannot be delayed any further. With the rising sea levels and increased heat waves, more Australians feel that the country should be phasing out coal electricity for renewable sources.