A project that is transitioning Ballarat Cemeteries from fossil fuels to solar powered systems for environmental and financial gains will be highlighted at an event next week.
The Ballarat Community Power Hub will run a public forum on February 11 showcasing communities around Ballarat that are taking energy matters into their own hands.
The entity, run by BREAZE, has been working with community and local organisations to identify and test the feasibility of community renewable energy projects during the past two and a half years.
Ballarat Cemeteries CEO Annie De Jong said the cemetery consumed significant electricity and fuel in daily operations, running irrigation systems, buildings and equipment - and the Ballarat Community Power Hub was providing knowledge to help create a sustainable future for the business.
"The solar will provide financial benefits - there will be a payback on that. But it also about being a responsible community service," she said.
The Community Power Hub is completing three feasibility studies for the cemetery: the use of solar to power buildings, converting gardening equipment to electric and investigating whether residual heat from the cremator could create electricity.
The solar will provide financial benefits - there will be a payback on that. But it also about being a responsible community service.Annie De Jong, Ballarat Cemeteries
Ballarat Cemetery Operations manager Charlie Stebbing said the feasibility study for the solar panels was in the early design phase investigating options.
The initial plan involves a combination of rooftop and on ground solar, with potential to use areas like the dam and use mobile panels that can be moved to different areas of the land.
"One of the challenges for us to go fully solar is the number of panels we need across the cemetery, and actually having them in the cemetery space and how acceptable that is to our community," Ms De Jong said.
"We would love to see if houses in our community could be part of that solar system. Although we are focused right now on establishing it for us, if there is any residual I would rather partner with community and push it there rather than back to the grid."
The cemetery has so far converted all small and medium sized plant equipment including whipper snippers and hedge trimmers to electric.
"We want to be self sufficient. We have a very clear strategy at our board level about being friendly to the environment," Ms De Jong said.
While it is still 'early days' for the Ballarat Cemeteries community renewable energy project, the organisation will share the knowledge gained throughout the process with other cemeteries as a model others could follow.
Other projects to be presented include the installation of solar panels on East Grampians Health Services buildings, the development of a design for public car parking with roof mounted solar panels, and an energy co-operative in a farming community that has investigated how to share its solar electricity generation between farms and residential properties.
Ballarat Community Power Hub spokesperson Ian Rossiter said it was important to share knowledge gained through the program to assist other community groups and organisations to begin their own renewable energy projects.
"These events provide the Ballarat Community with an opportunity to find out about the community renewable energy projects that proved feasible through investigations conducted over the last two years and opportunities and barriers that have influenced their implementation," he said.
"With around 50 projects being identified by the community, the Community Power Hub Ballarat Pilot Program has allowed BREAZE to develop business cases, build local understanding and skills capacity and facilitated the installation of more than 500kW of rooftop solar to community facilities."
State government funding for the Ballarat Community Power Hub ceased in June 2019, however BREAZE has recently received additional funding to assist with the implementation of it's 'pipeline' projects until June 30, 2020.
The Ballarat Community Power Hub project showcase will run two sessions; 5.00pm for 5.30pm to 6.30pm or 7.00pm for 7.30pm to 8.30pm at Oscars Hotel and Café Bar, 18 Doveton Street Sth, Ballarat.
The events include light refreshments and are free admission subject to registration. RSVP to Andrea Mason: email@example.com, 0427 338 482.
Have you signed up to The Courier's variety of news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in Ballarat.