Z-NET ~ ZERO NET ENERGY TOWN
Z-NET (Zero Net Energy Town) is a pioneering initiative to create Australia’s first town which produces all of its own energy needs from renewable energy. Z-NET’s purpose is to support towns and villages throughout Australia to satisfy their own energy needs from renewable energy sources in a way which is competitive with its current system of energy (in terms of price, quality, reliability, security of supply and so on).
Z-NET has begun with the creation of a blueprint and business case for the concept, based upon Uralla in the NSW High Country.
The Z-NET concept is of a distributed ‘mini’ electricity and energy system utilising the cutting edge of energy network technologies and solutions. The model utilises local renewable energy resources, energy management and storage technologies. Local involvement is key and is woven throughout all aspects of the enterprise ~ from energy supply and usage as well in regard to investment, governance, employment and financial returns.While there is no Z-NET in Australia as yet, there are now hundreds of rural towns operating this model elsewhere in the world (see some examples linked at the bottom of this page). The potential value of this model for Australia is quite significant, particularly given how abundant its renewable energy resources are and how distributed its energy needs are.
Z-NETs are a genuine sustainability ‘sweet spot’ ~ meaning they can deliver significant economic and financial outcomes as well as create stronger rural communities and benefits for the natural environment.
BLUEPRINT & BUSINESS CASE
The Z-NET Blueprint is the model created for towns and villages to be able to assess and design their own plan to achieve 100% renewable energy over a period of 5-10 years.
The Z-NET Blueprint was developed at the same time as creating a plan for Uralla ~ the Z-NET Case Study Town. This approach has given the model a very practical and ‘real world’ grounding, and includes a business case assessment to quantify the costs, benefits, opportunities and risks of the various options available.
This Blueprint is also intended to provide a platform and framework for other regional villages and towns to similarly assess the viability of becoming a Z-NET.The preparation of the ZNET Blueprint and Business Case was by a consortium led by Moreland Energy Foundation together with ClimateWorks, Enhar, Percepscion, Little Sketches and economist Rod Marsh.
URALLA ~ THE CASE STUDY TOWN
A rural town of 5,000 population spends some $20-40m on energy costs in total each year. Z-NET provides a potentially profound opportunity to transform energy from being a cost into the basis for a sustainable economic model through revenue, industry, business and employment.
Uralla, situated in the NSW High Country, was selected to be the Case Study focus for the blueprint to create Australia’s first Zero Net Energy Town (Z-NET) ~ aiming to satisfy all of its energy needs from renewable sources.
Z-NET Uralla has now formed to coordinate the implementation of their plan to become Australia’s first zero net energy town!
The initiative is being led by a Consortium of organisations, most of whom have been working on the initiative since mid 2013. The Consortium provides strategic guidance for the initiative, providing input and comments for the project design, town selection and selection of the consultants preparing the blueprint.
The members of the Consortium are:
- Institute for Rural Futures at the University of New England
- Office of Adam Marshall, Member for Northern Tablelands
- Regional Clean Energy Program of NSW Office of Environment & Heritage
- NSW Trade & Investment
- Regional Development Australia Northern Inland
- Starfish Initiatives
This project has been supported by the NSW Government as part of the Office of Environment and Heritage Regional Clean Energy Program.
The Consortium are supported by the Advisory Panel, whose role is to provide specialist advice as requested.
The members of the Advisory Panel are:
- Andy Cavanagh-Downs | Embark Australia
- Dr Christopher Blanksby | entura
- Franziska Mey | Community Power Agency
- James Felton-Taylor | Australian Sustainable Timbers
- Ken Davey (bio-gas and circular economy expert)
- Kristian Handberg | Percepscion
- Mark Byrne | Total Environment Centre
- Michael Brennan | Clarence Consultants
- Murray Hogarth | Green Capital & WattWatchers
- Tim Nelson |AGL & Future Grid Cluster
Starfish’s role is the overall project governance, coordination and communications, plus providing executive support for the Consortium.
Starfish is the auspice for the project’s finances and intellectual property.
- Energy Independent German Village Becomes Model for Renewable Energy | Community Power Report
- Energy Self-Sustainability | Starfish News
- German Village Produces 321% More Energy Than It Needs! | Inhabitat
- Bavarian village reaps renewable energy | Financial Times
Dharnai village, State of Bihar, INDIA ~ India village claims a first – 100% solar, storage micro-grid | REneweconomy
There is also an entire state, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany, which now produces 120% of their electricity needs from renewable energy.