The town of Newstead in Victoria could soon become Australia’s first solar town after the state Labor party threw its support to a plan to make the town sitting on the banks of Loddon River into a 100% renewable energy-reliant.
Envisioned to make the town of Newstead tap renewable energy sources three years from now, the Renewable Newstead Program advocates the widespread use of solar PV and solar storage systems in the soon to be solar town.
The solar town program is being developed by the Central Victoria Solar City which is part of the Solar Cities program of the Australian government, and Newstead 2021.
Solar town assisting households & business to transition to 100% clean energy
CVSC has already tapped the services of community engagement officer Ross Egleton, who will raise public awareness on the benefits of renewable energy in the town by conducting workshops and providing free home energy assessments.
Egleton is also looking at the power needs of businesses in Newstead apart from households. The Renewable Newstead program has also tapped the services of other experts who will help in aspects like community energy planning.
The solar town initiative will also receive financing with the Victorian Labor committing to support the energy project. The party had announced that it would provide Newstead 2021 with a grant of $200,000 for the preparation of a master plan.
Shadow minister for energy and resources Lily D’Ambrosio was quoted as saying that the party envisions Newstead to become an example of the community and government achieve when they work together.
Solar town to aid in unemployment in the region
Meanwhile, member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards noted the positive effect that the project will have on the economy of Victoria. She said that the initiative should boost the solar industry in the region, which has been hit by massive unemployment.
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She said that by investing in solar industry, the government can start thinking about how to produce jobs in growth industries like the solar sector and at the same time curb the unemployment rate of 22 percent across regional Victoria.
She also admitted that the project had gone off the radar under the party over the past four years. The project was made a priority in 2011 but never took off until now.
The town of Newstead, with a population of 500 people, is a thriving rural community. It is projected to provide experts with a convenient and controllable testing ground for full usage of renewable energy, before other towns and cities in the country are also made to renewable energy-dependent.
Newstead is also close to some of the top tourist attractions in Victoria, and within reasonable distance of the city of Melbourne.
Newstead will be a template for future solar towns
The announcement has also been widely received by renewable energy proponents like Environment Victoria. The environment group said that the plan to make Newstead 100% renewable energy dependent creates a valuable template that can be duplicated in other areas.
The group’s Safe Climate Campaign manager, Dr. Nicholas Aberle said in a statement that the project is a good first step towards a state-wide effort to reduce the country’s dependence on coal.
Standard Solar is a solar system installation specialist based in Seaford, Victoria. They are passionate about providing efficient, high quality solar solution in domestic, commercial and industrial applications. Find out more about Standard Solar’s products and services by visiting their website.