Retrofit : Retrofit Volume 1 2012
68 • RETROFIT AUSTRALIA • VOLUME 1 NUMBER 1 2012 | Alternative Energy photovoltaics providing 10 to 30 per cent of common area power. Another great Melbourne retrofit story is the Szencorp Building at 40 Albert Road, South Melbourne – the transformation of an old and inefficient commercial building into a standout energy and water efficient building with solar photovoltaic arrays and a demonstration solid oxide fuel cell. In Sydney, the Legion House retrofit that is underway has adopted an energy concept that uses biomass gasification and cogeneration to supply renewable electricity to meet all building requirements without connecting to the electricity grid. These and other projects have adopted a range of approaches to funding investment in alternative energy, noting that many forms of distributed generation are already cost-effective; for example, cogeneration and fuel cells. Some forms of renewable energy receive rebates and support from state and federal governments, and of course the carbon price will continue to shift the economics in a positive direction. Funding models that could be adopted for retrofitting renewable energy include self-investment, external ethical investor funding (for example super funds), specific technology grants, and third-party vehicles such as energy services companies. One funding model that offers real potential into the future is working with interested community groups to develop investment models where households and families can pool their resources to invest in renewables such as solar photovoltaics on commercial rooftops – drawing on the experience of the Hepburn Wind project in central Victoria as a community investment vehicle. Finally, the emerging electric vehicle sector presents both a technical challenge and a massive opportunity for commercial building owners. Approaches to electric and multiple fuel vehicles vary greatly – from the current crop of petrol-electric hybrids through to plug-in hybrids, plug-in fully electric vehicles, battery swap vehicles and conversions of petrol cars. All of these vehicles will potentially need a range of supporting infrastructure, from charging stations to more complicated interfaces. Many electric vehicle owners will be highly sensitive to the nature of the electricity used to recharge their vehicles – and the attraction (for example) of a commercial office building with rooftop solar and basement charging stations will be incalculable. All of this points to the emergence of a future ‘smart’ energy network, where we’d see more widespread distributed generation, better use of energy efficiency and demand management, and greater public awareness and expectation. Under this model, energy storage then becomes crucial, and electric vehicles are very likely to play a part in this. Much of this is, and will remain, slightly speculative for some time to come. But we know that renewable energy generation will continue to increase its penetration through all sectors of Australia’s economy, and the economics of this will only improve. There will be benefits to those who develop innovative approaches to building, to retrofitting, to developing and to funding renewable energy over the next few years. Exciting, isn’t it? The Alternative Technology Association (ATA), publisher of the magazines ReNew: technology for a sustainable future and Sanctuary: modern green homes, is Australia’s leading not-for-profit organisation promoting sustainable technology and practice. The ATA provides services to members who are actively walking the talk in their own homes by using good building design, conserving water and using renewable energy. ATA advocates in government and industry arenas for easy access to these technologies as well as continual improvement of the technology, information and products needed to change the way we live.
Retrofit Volume 1 Issue 2 2012