Local residents with solar panels on their houses will be able to feed into an innovative solar power system about to be built for Hobsons Bay City Council.

The new system is a Virtual Energy Network which will help us fulfil our goals to reduce council net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by this year and community emissions to zero by 2030.

But it will also save immensely on Council’s electricity bills.

Essentially, the VEN allows Council to install solar panels on big roof spaces of council buildings and export the power generated to other buildings.

When storage batteries become more affordable and are linked into the solar power network, the system will be transformed into a Virtual Power Plant.

Under a VPP, excess energy generated during the day would be stored and used on council buildings overnight.

Eventually, residential solar systems will be able to feed into the network.

It will take two years to build the Virtual Energy Network, but the benefits will start flowing back to Council from early next year when the first solar power is generated.

It should pay itself off within nine years, possibly earlier depending on residential feed-in.

The new system will be the first for a metropolitan council.

The VEN will reduce total greenhouse emissions by between 30 per cent and 55 per cent within two years.

A building retrofit program over the next five years will achieve a further 20 per cent reduction in emissions, while a street lighting program will produce another 19 per cent in reductions.

The fast-tracking of the solar panel system was passed by a resolution of Council in October last year but has taken a number of months to work through expressions of interest and a tender process was conducted from May to July.

This is a very exciting development for Hobsons Bay and I hope that, eventually, solar panels on local residences, community buildings and business buildings will be able to feed into the system for the benefit of all.