Renewable energy continues to be the main thrust of the Sustainable Seymour group.
Pumped Hydro: The pumped hydro feasibility study is under way, led by Roger Dargaville from the Melbourne Energy Institute. On 25 November, a meeting in Seymour with Roger and six staff from Goulburn Valley Water was followed by inspections of the two project sites at Trawool and Euroa. The meeting was attended by Jeff Wilmot, Richard Telford, Julie Mitchell, Malcolm Green and Bob Brown from Seymour and Shirley Saywell, Andi Kofler and Charlie Brydon from Euroa. Jeff reports:
Due to the low head and large amount of water needed, the capacity of the Strathbogie project, utilising Waterhouse and Abbinga reservoirs, is about 2 MW, which is the capacity of the diesel generator now used at peak times. But at such time,s the water demand for other purposes is also high so may not be available for hydro-generation. New pipe is also needed which could cost $4 million.
At Trawool the head a(290 metres) and volume of water (5o megalitres) being considered equate to potential energy of 40 MWh. Generator capacity could be 4 MW or more depending on the time required to run. The potential income from “arbitraging”, ie buying cheap power to pump and generating at times of expensive power, could be $1 million per year. The granite wall would withstand the daily cycling involved as it is impervious. There would be no safety issues as the water level would change slowly, but some kind of cage would be required over the outlet pipe. The reservoir would still be available for recreation. Another possible purpose for generation could be to level the output of the Cherry Tree Range wind farm across the river.
The feasibility study is continuing. Refinement of the engineering and other aspects of the project will provide a better picture of the project and its impact on the environment and the community. The feasibility study team will then organise a community consultation to explain the project and discuss these impacts. This consultation is an essential part of the feasibility study and one of the steps we need to complete satisfactorily before we proceed further with the study.
Rooftop solar at Chittick Park: The feasibility study for rooftop solar at Chittick Park is also continuing. On 1st December, Jeff Wilmot, Peter Mitchell, Richard Telford, Malcolm Green met with Jeff Saker from Mitchell Shire Council and Gavin Ashley from Moreland Energy Foundation to work out the scope of the study to be carried out by MEF. The main focus of the study will be on the solar array on the roof of the Seymour Sports and Aquatic Centre. Estimates from Malcolm Green indicate that a 120 KV system would provide around 25% of the annual electricity needs of the centre with only about 5% being returned to the grid. While the figures are still being refined, the project will pay back investment in only a few years. MEF will also carry out a preliminary assessment on any expansion of the project to other buildings and facilities around Chittick Park.
Cherry Tree Wind Farm: News from Infigen is that the Cherry Tree Wind Farm is still proceeding but work has been put back to late-2017. Infigen are working on selecting the preferred turbine manufacturer and construction company that will perform the works. Hopefully the assessment will be complete in a couple of months. In the meantime Infigen are also looking for possible offtake agreements for the project and submitting Cherry Tree Windfarm to several tender processes. Once successful in one of these processes, it will give the certainty we need to kick off construction. By then, we will have a better picture of the possibilities for linking the wind farm with the pumped hydro project.
Community Energy: Several members of the Sustainable Seymour group are attending the Community Energy Congress in Melbourne on 27th and 28th February. We are hoping to learn more about other community energy projects and, importantly, how they are funded and governed; this is the next step for our projects. Good news is that Mitchell Shire Council is funding two of our members to attend the conference and are also sending a Council staff member to the Congress and a follow-up meeting for Council representatives. Many thanks to Jeff Saker and Elyse Kelly and the Council for their support and we look forward to working more closely with them over 2017.
Seymour Structure Plan: Finally, the draft of the Seymour Structure Plan is due in early 2017. This will provide the big picture for the development of Seymour and all the smaller projects we are working on. We will organise a workshop as soon as the plan is released for community feedback.