Tyalgum NSW wants to go completely off grid

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Tyalgum NSW wants to go completely off grid

Postby station240 » Thu Oct 08, 2015 7:26 pm

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-08/tyalgum-hopes-to-become-the-first-australian-town-to-go-off-grid/6834332

Tyalgum is quietly working on a plan to become the first town in Australia to voluntarily disconnect from the electricity grid.

Tyalgum, in north-east New South Wales, is home to about 300 people and what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in ambition.

The small community is currently working to become 100 per cent reliant on renewable energy, and if it achieves this goal it could then voluntarily unplug from the grid.

Its location, about an hour's drive north-west of Byron Bay, puts it in the perfect position to do it.

"Geographically it's in the right location as far as networks go," said Andrew Price from Australian Radio Towers, the company spearheading the town's renewable energy project.

"It's right on the end of the grid so it's not disruptive to other communities further down the power line."

Mr Price said the community is very receptive to the idea as there is already a huge push toward sustainability and renewable energy in the area.

"Ultimately it's got to be a community-based decision but (because of) the size of the community and the style of the community it is, we've got a really good chance of doing that," he said.

Tosh Szatow, from Energy For the People, wrote a feasibility study for the renewables project that found frustrated community members want to take back control of energy infrastructure.

"The community there is pretty frustrated with the rise in energy prices and not really seeing benefits proportionate to that — they're not seeing more renewable energy, they're not seeing better services and more reliable power," he said.

Tweed Shire Deputy Mayor Gary Bagnall has also taken to social media to express his support for taking Tyalgum off the grid.
Hurdles must be cleared before town can unplug

Going off the grid would mean the town would function as normal, but would source all of its power from renewable energy.

Mr Szatow said there are two approaches the community could adopt to achieve this.

"One way is that every house and every business gets their own solar system, potentially gets their own battery storage," he said.

He said the second option would be to construct a hub somewhere in the town that individuals and businesses could source energy form.

"It means the town can be either completely off grid or largely self-sufficient using renewable energy," he said.

The cost of switching entirely to renewables would depend on which option is taken, but early estimates have the cost from anywhere between $4 million to just over $7 million.

And there are several hurdles that need to be cleared before the town could completely unplug from the grid.

One is that those developing the project would need to negotiate viable access, tariffs and potentially the transfer of ownership of a portion of the electricity network from the local power provider.

It will also require strong community support and legislative change from the New South Wales Government.

Organisers from Australian Radio Towers are in talks with school and community groups to discuss funding options and said they are confident the project could begin as soon as it is given the green light.


Certainly ambitious, I'm betting the legislative issues to be a lot harder to resolve, than any technical ones.
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Re: Tyalgum NSW wants to go completely off grid

Postby lantern » Tue Oct 13, 2015 9:54 am

For sure the electricity retailers are not going to like it.
They will be bleating "What about our guaranteed profits?"

Maybe the residents can just tell the retailers that they are all moving out on a certain day :lol:
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Re: Tyalgum NSW wants to go completely off grid

Postby offgridQLD » Tue Oct 13, 2015 3:49 pm

I would think A centralized system would have to be the most efficient and easiest to maintain. Although It would achieve the goal of all home's in the town running on renewable energy. Though I'm sure there would be issues with who owns the wires to the homes (unless they could purchase the old poles and wires (that's not likely) and in the end as a idavidual home owner in the town you still don't have your Independence as your being sold electricity by a local producer/distributor.

Independent systems for each house would likely be to much to manage for some people in the community. Particularly when it came to managing supply and demand around the weather conditions (in a no generator offgird system) A lot of people like the convenience of being able to run 10 consecutive loads of washing through the washer then through the dryer when ever they like.

Then you have the issues of some homes being ideal for PV offgrid system and others just no good at all. tiny roof space, shade, facing the wrong direction.

Remember they are talking about isolating them self completely from the grid. So if you take away that option everyone in the town has to be completely offgrid and most likely not everyone realistically can.

Brings you back to the one big local system to power the town. The individual home owner wouldn't notice any change . Just a different provider name on the bill and pricing. Then your not really off the grid your just one the local grid I guess if they think its worth it.

How would you pay for the project each home owner would have to contribute something to kick start it. deciding on how much each individual home owner has to pay for there share of the infrastructure cost would be hard. Home owner A consumes 50kwh pr day. Home owner B (old lady in a flat) consuming 10kwh pr day. Contributing the same amount to be hooked up to the local grid.

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Re: Tyalgum NSW wants to go completely off grid

Postby jules » Thu Oct 15, 2015 11:39 am

I would think A centralized system would have to be the most efficient and easiest to maintain.


Key question isn't it? I'm wondering if it would be possible to power a small town, up to maybe 700m from the central supply, using 240V or, given the distances involved, would the supply need to be a higher voltage with step down transformers used as in a normal grid system? I'd guess that once you added in something like that, plus the poles and wires it might just be better for each house to go stand alone off-grid.I notice that a key player in Tyalgum's plans is a tower building company, so presumably they'd be putting in their own "poles and wires" and this would cost a significant amount.

The thing that makes being off-grid so worthwhile is that you get to manage your own power. You can make your system as big or small as you like. You get to control the whole thing and of course, you don't get a bill each month, which as you've pointed out Kurt, wouldn't happen if the whole town had a central supply.

Given pigs will fly before the state government will legislate to allow whole town to act so rebelliously anyway, I would think the only way to make this happen would be for individual home owners to set up their own systems en masse and then later perhaps form some small electrically linked groups of 4 or 5 houses. I wonder how that might go legally?

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Re: Tyalgum NSW wants to go completely off grid

Postby offgridQLD » Thu Oct 15, 2015 11:58 am

yes it all depends on why they want to go off grid as you cant always have yor cake and eat it. It gets to the point where I think perhaps if each individual sets up there own offgrid system and the town helps in the design and installation as a community initiative to take advantage of bulk installations. Then they just keep the grid connected as a inexpensive generator. Though I'm sure there would be backlash from the mains suppler and a more aggressive hike in the fixed costs. Fixed supply charges sure do add up even as they stand now. Most likely $500 or more PA in rural areas. That is a lot to pay for the odd few days they might need it.

It's a hard one as living in towns, city's doesn't go hand in hand with independent living.People who are currently connected to the grid are in a bit of a catch 22 situation as its my understanding it's difficult to have your supply completely removed so you don't get the bills for fixed supply costs. (though I could be wrong on that)

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Re: Tyalgum NSW wants to go completely off grid

Postby lantern » Tue Oct 27, 2015 4:02 pm

Looks like they need to talk to this crew.

http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/garnaut ... grid-26054
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Re: Tyalgum NSW wants to go completely off grid

Postby jules » Tue Oct 27, 2015 6:51 pm

Yes indeed, Garnaut is extraordinarily well informed on the the way the power industry operates!
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Re: Tyalgum NSW wants to go completely off grid

Postby Privatteer » Wed Nov 04, 2015 10:43 pm

Fresh slate - recently moved.
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Re: Tyalgum NSW wants to go completely off grid

Postby jules » Sun Nov 08, 2015 6:36 pm

More from the ABC on the grid, going off-grid and Tyalgum:

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/pro ... ct/6915554

This show from background briefing, including the segment on Tyalgum, examines the mind twisting ways in which state govts. and networks have combined to bring us some of the most expensive power in the world. It appears they're also in court at the moment, with a team of some 40 legal people, fighting to increase the price of power significantly, yet again. Don't worry though, the cost of fighting to charge consumers more, tens of millions of dollars apparently, is all born by the tax payer ... nice!!
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Veteran system, semi retired: 6 X 55W Solarex 12V panels; Fangpusun CC; 6 X 2V, 35 year old 550Ah lead acid flooded cell batteries.
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