Federal Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and Federal Member for Indi Cathy McGowan visited Winton on Monday to meet with local stakeholders to discuss funding for renewable energy.
The visit followed an announcement by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) of a $12.5 million funding initiative that will support the integration of distributed energy resources in homes and businesses to contribute to grid reliability.
Mr Frydenberg and Ms McGowan attended two roundtables at Yackandandah and Winton, which were designed to bring together stakeholders from across the electorate.
At the meetings they discussed innovation in Indi in the renewable energy space, including community partnerships with local government.
‘‘It’s great to be here in the Winton Wetlands, where I’ll be meeting the Wetlands management committee to discuss the feasibility study that they have under way into a 10 megawatt solar plant,’’ Mr Frydenberg said.
‘‘This is coming at a time that the Federal Government just announced... funding to support pilot projects that look at distributed energy, solar PV, batteries, and how these communities can be self-sufficient with power.
‘‘This is a dramatic transformation that is taking place in Australia’s energy system.
‘‘It’s a once-in-a-century development as we move into the world of micro-grids and demand management, rooftop solar and battery storage.
‘‘So it’s exciting to be in regional Victoria to talk to local communities about the opportunities that are available to them.’’
Ms McGowan said ARENA’s first targeted funding initiative was focused on supporting increasing shares of distributed energy resources, such as solar PV and batteries.
‘‘It is estimated there are more than 1.7 million Australian householders — around 20 per cent — with solar on their roof,’’ Ms McGowan said.
‘‘There is an expectation that more households and businesses will invest in batteries, and energy-management systems including smart thermostats.’’
Ms McGowan said she was keen to see applications from Indi among those projects and studies offered for funding under the new program.
‘‘There is a community energy revolution now under way across Indi and this funding will provide the impetus for some of these projects to take the next step,’’ she said.
‘‘ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht says consumer-owned energy resources are going to play a big role in the future energy mix.’’
Distributed energy resources include rooftop solar, home batteries, inverters, controllable loads, electric vehicle charging points, smart appliances and systems, as well as smart meters and data services.
Mr Frischknecht said the $12.5million distributed energy resources funding initiative would support pilot projects and studies to integrate these resources into the electricity system.
He said by 2022, whole regions of the electricity system should be operated securely and reliably with 100 per cent of demand met from a behind-the-meter assets combination.
Expressions of interest for $7.5million to pilot projects increasing network-hosting capacity close on May 7.
Expressions of interest for a further $5 million for desktop or feasibility studies or modelling to successfully integrate distributed energy resources close on April 16.
Successful projects are expected to be awarded funding in the second half of this year.