My project aim was to learn how to transition regional Australian villages to 100% renewable (or zero-net energy) by learning from European examples. The transition to a clean energy future is only just emerging in our country and whilst there is some aspiration and target setting, currently there are no operating genuine 100% renewable energy towns or shires on the Australian landscape that are integrated community energy systems. Hepburn Wind was a first mover, virtually offsetting from the wind farm site at Leonards Hill through to Hepburn Springs, however this only represents offsetting household consumption, there is more work to be done for industry consumption locally as well as for the whole shire more broadly.
My Fellowship focused on visiting regional towns in Europe to understand the interconnected political, social, technical and financial factors that enable communities to successfully transition, be zero-net energy or even energy exporters. It included speaking with over 80 thought leaders, municipalities, community members, industry experts, federal politicians and policy-makers about how different frameworks can stimulate a successful transition. It also included over 60 distinct site visits to operating projects to understand the different combinations of models and technologies that have been developed and the institutes that are coordinating this transition. This Fellowship aimed to explore future scenarios that can be implemented within the Australian context. This will assist the transition and social adaptation of communities and contribute to the knowledge base in this emergent field. In addition I aim to offer innovative pathways for different contexts of communities and assist industry and government to best unlock community energy as a core building block of localised 100% renewable transitions.
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