Brookfield Energy Australia (NSW) is conducting a study that could lead to a residential development powered solely by renewable energy.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is investing $442,000 in the $1.1 million study which could see the Huntlee residential development operating off-the-grid.

Huntlee, developed by LWP Property Group, will be the first new town in the Hunter Valley in 50 years and will house 20,000 new residents in 7,500 homes.

ARENA CEO, Ivor Frischknecht, said substantial connection costs and the falling cost of renewable energy make it a good time to explore the option of forgoing grid connection.

“If this latest work shows renewables, battery storage and enabling technologies can reliably and cost effectively power new suburbs, it could set a precedent for residential developments and potentially accelerate the uptake of renewables in Australia,”

“There are a number of regulatory challenges and constraints and technical risks facing microgrids. Brookfield will share key insights about overcoming these barriers with the energy industry,” Mr Frischknecht said.

Brookfield Energy CEO, Richie Sheather, welcomed the announcement.

“We are excited to be exploring sustainable alternative solutions for energy and water infrastructure solutions and see an emerging competitive market for large-scale local microgrids leveraging high penetration renewable,” Mr Sheather said.

Brookfield company, Flow Systems, is spearheading Brookfield’s sustainable multi-utility initiative across Australia.

Flow Systems Managing Director, Terry Leckie, said their goal is to “develop a model that has 10 times the penetration of renewables for the equivalent cost of energy. Proving this can be done technically and commercially will be a real step change for embedded renewables in this country.”

Huntlee Project Director, Stephen Thompson, said Huntlee would be an entirely master-planned community designed for 21st Century living and embracing the very latest in renewables would be a key factor in ensuring the town’s prosperous future.

“For quite a number of years, we have been investigating ways to incorporate cutting-edge renewable technology into the very fabric of the town and we’re excited by the possibility of developing Australia’s first town-scale greenfield microgrid and all of the advantages that level of innovation would bring to our residents and commercial operators,”

“If the proposed model for Huntlee is successful, it will positively influence the nature of housing, employment, business, transportation and education for our future residents,” Mr Thompson said.

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