A community group has launched an initiative to cover every roof in Brookvale’s industrial area with solar panels.

An initiative of the Solar Alliance, Powerhouse Brookvale was launched last night (Monday, 28 February) at 4 Pines Truck Bar in the heart of Brookvale. The event was hosted by The War on Waste’s Craig Reucassel (main image) and attended by around 150 guests, including federal politicians Zali Steggall OAM and Jason Falinski, along with Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan.

NSW Minister for Infrastructure Rob Stokes was unable to attend the event in person and sent a video message supporting the project.

Powerhouse Brookvale aims to drive solar uptake in the industrial area of Brookvale with the vision of creating Australia’s first Urban Renewable Energy Zone.

The roof space of industrial buildings in the area is the equivalent of over 30 Brookvale Ovals and Solar Alliance claimed it could be able to generate as much as 40 megawatts of power at peak capacity.

Ms Steggall told the assembled audience it was a pivotal time in Australia’s energy transition.

Zali Steggall OAM

Zali Steggall

“We’ve got the opportunity here in Brookvale to be the first urban renewable energy site. I think that is something really worth celebrating, and I’m so excited that it’s happening here in Warringah.

“Powerhouse Brookvale is so important. We can democratise power in a metro area. In Warringah, we currently have 6,356 solar installations producing some 37,300 kilowatts of power.

“This installation will add almost 20,000 kilowatts, that is great news. It will power businesses, reduce power bills, make the grid resilient, create local jobs, and importantly, revitalise Brookvale. We want to see that happen. Powerhouse Brookvale is going to be a case study for the nation,” said Ms Steggall.

A well-known renewable energy advocate, Mayor Regan promised not to stray too far from the script provided by Council staff but was clearly in favour of the project.

Michael Regan

Michael Regan

“Council set a target in 2019 to get solar on half of our premises that were suitable by 2030. We identified 60,000 out of 100,000 premises that were specifically ideal. I think we have less than half of that at the moment. Our target was to get all that 60,000 by 2030, I want 100 percent by 2025, forget 2030.

“We have promised net zero by 2050 but we’re actually wanting and we’re putting in place strategies to do this by 2030. For Council, we’ll knock that over within a few years but we want this in the whole of the community by 2030.

“We can’t achieve our corporate goals and community targets on our own, so we’re supporting projects like this tonight. We want to get our community onto the net zero journey. This project is a little bit funded by Council through its grants program, but it’s driven by these amazing community volunteers.

“We’ve installed 900 kilowatts of solar on our council buildings, including a 265 kilowatt system on our Manly Andrew Boy Charlton Aquatic Centre, one of the largest power stations on the Northern Beaches. In 2020, we reached an agreement to purchase 100 percent renewable electricity,” said Mayor Regan.

According to Solar Alliance, the opportunity to cover ‘naked roofs’ in solar panels is significant, but not without hurdles. Typically, the biggest issue is that the business which uses the power may not own the premises, causing issues with investment decisions.

Solar Alliance say they will be helping businesses in Brookvale negotiate the complexities and risks of solar installation, so they are able to obtain the benefits, which may occur in as little as four years. More information is available at the Solar Alliance website.

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate

Radio Northern Beaches Michael Lester recently spoke to Warren Yates and Chris Lee from Solar Alliance:

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