Totally Renewable Yackandandah’s dream becomes reality in solar power switch on

Years of ideas and planning by Totally Renewable Yackandandah has paid off with the installation of a world-first solar system in homes.

Geordie Graham never had solar power on his home before, but now has a six-kilowatt system with about 20 panels on his roof, plus a battery and “ubi” computer system installed at the side of his house. He is hoping it will be the answer to his family’s ever-growing power bills. “We’ll be interested to see how it all works and how it does make a difference to our power consumption – the quarterly bills are just skyrocketing,” he said.

The unique solar system has been developed by Mondo, an offshoot of AusNet Services, as a way to help TRY achieve its goal to make Yackandandah 100 per cent reliant on solar energy by 2022. The trial involves 14 homes with the full solar and battery package in Yackandandah Heights, plus another 106 homes will have the solar and ubi systems installed, and 50 more which already had solar panels will install the ubi computers. Ron and Helen Boulton were the first to have their system installed and were very excited about the difference it could make to their energy use.

Mondo has revealed its software system for the first time, which residents will be able to access on their phones and tablets. It sets out exactly how much energy the home has generated, used and exported by the hour, plus how all the Yackandandah homes using the system are tracking in total. Mondo community energy manager Mark Judd said the ubi would help residents control how to use the least power, and purchase extra power off the grid at cheaper off-peak times if needed.

“The moment you give people visibility of their power consumption, they start to modify their behaviours and become much more efficient because they can see what’s happening,” he said. “First thing in the morning, when the sun comes up, it starts charging the battery - we’ve been noticing in a couple of systems, they’re full by 11 in the morning. The solar energy from the panel for the rest of the day is used to run the house and export to the grid. The moment the sun goes down, the battery starts to pick up the house load.”

TRY co-chair Matthew Charles-Jones said it was an exciting time for the renewable energy project. “It’s nice to see the dream and the imagination become tangible,” he said. “A lot of the large solar installations have been inaccessible to households and this is accessible, it gives them a freedom and ability to participate in the energy market.”