Whitehorse City Council

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy systems use sources like the sun, wind and water (hydro) to generate power. 

The most common renewable energy systems used for Australian homes are solar photovoltaic panels (PVs) and solar hot water systems. With both of these options, you can still be connected to the main electricity grid for mains power as you need it. You might even be able to sell your excess energy to the electricity company and use this money to pay off the system. 

With a renewable energy system you use your own energy first, and can connect to mains power for the times when there may not be enough electricity being generated by your system. Any extra energy you generate can be fed back into the grid. Depending on where you live and who your electricity supplier is, you might even be paid for your excess electricity.

For the most up-to-date information on Victorian feed-in tariffs visit the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning website.

Council offers an array of solar rebates covering solar PV, solar hot water and solar battery storage units to support Whitehorse residents. For more information, visit the Solar Rebate webpage.  


Solar Power

Solar PVs convert sunlight into electricity. They are a good choice for metropolitan areas as they don't make a noise and are usually out of the way up on your roof. Solar PVs have no moving parts, require little maintenance and can be expected to last 20 years or more. 

For more information on solar PVs, download the Clean Energy Council’s Consumer Guide to Buying Household Solar Panels or request a hard copy by phoning Council’s Sustainability Team on 9262 6333.

Alternatively, download the pdf icon Solar PV Systems Information Sheet (400.97kB).


GreenPower 

If you can’t afford a solar PV system, signing up to GreenPower is a great option. This involves your electricity supplier sourcing some or all of your energy from renewable sources like wind, solar, hydro and even decomposing organic wastes. 

The government regulates green power providers and maintains a list of accredited green power products. These government accredited products use the GreenPower trademark.

Visit the GreenPower website for more information.


Solar Hot Water

Solar hot water systems use solar collectors (tubes or panels) to absorb energy from the sun to heat water for your home. The heated water is then stored in an insulated tank for when you need it.

With a solar hot water system, you could get between 50 and 90 per cent of your hot water for free. 

For more information on solar hot water systems, download the Clean Energy Council’s Fact Sheet on Solar Hot Water and Heat Pumps. You can request a hard copy by phoning Council’s Sustainability Team on 9262 6333.


Wind Turbines

Wind turbines or generators use the wind to turn a propeller, which drives a generator and produces electricity. Larger wind generators are well suited to non-urban areas, as the turbine needs to be mounted on a tower. Most wind turbines make some noise when they're turning but new developments in wind turbine technology are making them quieter. 


Carbon Offsets, Carbon Neutral and Abatement Schemes

Some community groups and businesses offer schemes that plant trees or do other energy-saving projects to offset your greenhouse gas emissions. Products and services that have offset the pollution from making goods or delivering services are called carbon neutral. You can offset emissions such as those generated by driving your car, air travel or running major events by choosing providers of carbon neutral services or products.

For more information on the National Carbon Offset Standard and Carbon Neutral Program, visit the Department of Environment’s website.


Other Renewable Energy Systems

For more information on other renewable energy systems, such as geothermal, bioenergy and ocean energy, visit the Australian Renewable Energy Agency website.

Case Study – The Cowling Residence

The Cowling residence in Vermont South were the 2014 winners of Council’s Sustainable Household Award and Mayor’s Sustainable Choice Award. Lindsay and Louise have integrated a diverse range of energy and water saving opportunities into their home, including a 3kW solar PV system.

What motivated you to install solar PVs?

We are keen to reduce the size of our footprint on the planet. Installing solar PVs not only enabled us to do this but also had the benefit of eliminating our electricity bill over a relatively short pay-back period of four years.

What are the sizes of the panels and inverter?

We have sixteen panels (3kW) matched to a 3kW inverter.

Does your system meet all or some of your energy needs?

As a result of doing some simple things to save energy, our solar installation basically makes the house energy neutral.

What kinds of things do you do to save energy?

We have installed LED lights and switches to turn off standby power to televisions and other appliances. We also monitor our power consumption through displays that connect to our smart meter. Household appliances are selected on the basis of efficiency as well as functionality. We are aware of the energy draw of various household appliances and try to limit the use of inefficient appliances such as a clothes dryer. We also have clerestory windows and north facing window cover. 


Case Study – Whitehorse City Council

Council is committed to sustainability and has installed solar PV systems on many Council owned buildings including the Civic Centre, Box Hill Town Hall, Aqualink Box Hill, Operations Centre, child care centres, pavilions and neighbourhood houses. In 2012/13, buildings accounted for almost three-quarters (73%) of Council’s greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, solar PV systems are an important way in which Council can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.