‘Virtual net metering’ trial program to allow Byron Bay Shire to sell solar to neighbouring sewage plant

The NSW government has confirmed its support of an “energy trading trial” that will allow Byron Shire council to sell output from a council-owned rooftop solar array to a neighbouring sewage plant, which has little roof space and high energy demand.

The plan – revealed by RenewEconomy last Monday – is also known as “virtual net metering” or “peer-to-peer trading”, and is considered an important step in breaking down barriers that could discourage the deployment of solar and other renewable energy sources at the local level.

To date, there have been several cases where buildings in the CBDs of Melbourne and Sydney have been allowed to sell electricity from co-generation or tri-generation plants in one building. 

The Byron Shire example, which will sell solar power generated by an array on the roof of the town’s major sports centre, is believed to be the first in Australia for a regional council and a large solar array.

NSW environment minister Rob Stokes said the three-year trial would mean there were two facilities using renewable energy from one site, allowing the sewage plant to run off clean, sustainable power and achieving greater use of energy generated by the sports centre’s solar panels.

“This initiative will also provide valuable information on how we can break down barriers that inhibit the sale of renewable energy in the local community,” he said in a statement.

“The Baird Government is committed to supporting the transition to renewable energy and making NSW number one for the environment. This is a great outcome for the Byron Bay community and I’m delighted we are supporting this fantastic initiative.”

The trial will run in collaboration with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the Institute of Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney and the NSW Renewable Energy Advocate.

© 2015 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson