Monash's 100% renewable electricity plan
Author: Martin Daniel
Australia's largest university has recently announced its plans to implement a 100% renewable energy strategy by 2030. Given Monash has an aspiration to help solve the great challenges of the modern age, and coupled with their Clayton campus emerging as an energy technology hub, Monash is well placed to put theory into practice for one of the most effective means of mitigating against a drastically altered environment due to human activity.
“We're committed to playing a fundamental role in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by ensuring our campuses and major programs are environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive.” Monash Net Zero Initiative.
Monash is doing this not only because they want to demonstrate their commitment to this cause by implementing emerging technologies, but in the face of rising energy costs the plan can also demonstrate that this is the smart economic move.
“With our energy bills currently pushing $12 million per annum, and expected to nearly double in the next two years due to rising energy prices, it's also a significant cost that we can put to far better use.” Monash Net Zero Initiative.
Across all of Monash's Australian campuses the university currently consumes a whopping 682,000 GJ of energy, costing the university $12 million a year. This figure includes both gas and electricity, equating to approximately 0.01% of Australia's total annual energy consumption of approximately 6000 PJ.
By 2030 the plan is not only to reduce the total energy consumption across all their Australian campuses to 400,000 GJ, but to also electrify the entire campus network at the same time, meaning that by removing gas usage, a 100% renewable electricity powered campus network is achievable - 80,000 GJ (or 20%) of which will be powered by onsite solar photovoltaic panels coupled with on-site storage.
Monash intends to use a range of means in their 2030 strategy. A significant component of this strategy will be to install 5.5 MW of behind the metre onsite solar capacity, creating Australia's largest urban solar farm in the process. This will be made up of several smaller systems across every practical rooftop and carpark on campus.
“It starts with generating as much energy from our large-scale on-site solar arrays as possible, and sourcing the rest from off-site renewable energy sources.” Monash Net Zero Initiative
The solar network created will be able to export energy to the Victorian network which will help to stabilise the grid while at the same time delivering dependable power to the university campus.
Monash has recognised that on-site, behind the meter generation is the best option available, which is why the strategy starts with on-site generation and maximising this electricity source. Doing this begins with setting up the Clayton campus as a microgrid in order to better use and manage the campus's energy consumption. Having control enables Monash to better manage their energy usage to maximise reliability, efficiency and affordability of their energy usage.
To date, Monash has already implemented some actions which are worth noting, such as being the first Australian university to commit to an energy reduction target - setting a 20% target back in 2005. Also, the University has previously installed solar photovoltaics (to a limited extent) at all of its campuses, generating a total of 650,000 kWh in 2016, enough to power 130 Victorian homes. This creates a great launching pad for Monash to implement its renewable energy transition strategy and lead the way to a sustainable energy future. On a similar note, Monash has switched a significant portion of their office paper procurement to Planet Ark 100% Australian Recycled Paper which will help them lower their carbon emission impact further.
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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.
Author: Martin DanielMartin comes to Planet Ark having worked as an applied materials scientist for ten years and managing a Materials Testing Laboratory for the last seven of this. Having taken a keen interest in renewable energy and climate policy Martin started a Masters in Environmental Science and Law in 2015. Martin now works as the Planet Ark Power Program Manager primarily focused on accelerating the uptake of solar PV in the commercial sector in Australia
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