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Narara Ecovillage Cooperative Ltd

Narara Ecovillage secures additional grant for Central Coast Smart Grid


EMBARGOED: 00:01 Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Narara Ecovillage secures additional grant to complete state-of-the-art Smart Grid

Community aims to supply clean, renewable energy to Central Coast residents

GOSFORD, NSW -- Narara Ecovillage (NEV) has been awarded further funding of $190,000 from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to help maintain one of Australia’s most advanced community-owned energy grids. The Federal Member for Robertson Lucy Wicks MP today attended a briefing on the NEV Smart Grid and a tour of the recently completed civil works at the Ecovillage located near Gosford.

‘Providing a clean, reliable supply of power from renewable sources for our residents is a primary concern of the project and we’re grateful to ARENA for granting the additional funds to enable us to build this state-of-the-art Smart Grid, one of the first in Australia,’ commented John Talbott, NEV Project Director.

‘Microgrids like ours represent a paradigm shift in the way communities can manage energy use themselves: generating and storing renewably produced energy on site and minimising the use of the national grid. Our long-term goal is to generate more energy than we need and to offer our surplus to Central Coast residents at a competitive price,’ he said.

NEV has been awarded total funds from ARENA of $1,158,000, representing 31% of the total cost of the network, the remainder of which has been contributed by the future residents.

‘As a community, we have come far through boldly pushing the established boundaries of conventional building, water and power models in NSW – and we look forward to the day when our energy regulators and decision-makers remove some of the remaining barriers to deliver even more autonomy to regional communities to take control of their own power issues,’ he said.

Federal Member for Robertson Lucy Wicks said she was pleased to see ARENA funding helping community groups on the Central Coast.

“The Narara Ecovillage is an outstanding initiative that is leading the way in its field, not just on the Central Coast but around the world,” Mrs Wicks said. “The Smart Grid is set to be one of Australia’s most advanced community-owned energy grids and I’m pleased that it has been made possible through ARENA funding.

“The Ecovillage is an incredible project and I look forward to seeing the village go from strength to strength,” Mrs Wicks said.

Thanks to a high-tech ‘tap change transformer’ (dubbed ‘Priscilla’ by the Ecovillagers) sourced from Europe, and other advanced control technology, the Smart Grid is designed to manage when energy should be used directly on site, stored in batteries, or exported. The system factors in weather conditions like sunny or cloudy days, as well as time of day demand, to predict the amount of energy that will be available from solar panels or battery storage, to meet the community’s fluctuating needs and to determine whether to import or export energy to or from the local grid.

Founder Lyndall Parris said: ‘We welcome the opportunity to show Mrs Wicks the ARENA funds at work in her electorate – without the agency’s funding, a network on this scale and level of sophistication would not be possible.

‘And, while we’re brazenly claiming to be Australia’s smartest community-owned grid right now, we will be delighted to pass on the mantle when others develop even more efficient systems based on our learnings,’ Mrs Parris said. ‘This is an important part of our mission – to share with others what we have learned and inspire them to take steps in their own lives towards more sustainable approaches to living.’

-- ENDS --


Lucy Wicks MP will take media questions at the event. 

Interviews are also available with:

·         Lyndall Parris -- Founder, Narara Ecovillage

·         John Talbott -- Project Director, Narara Ecovillage

Images include:

·     Lucy Wicks MP on site tour at Narara Ecovillage (pictures available from 2:00pm)

·      ‘Sun to socket’ Smart Grid infographic in high resolution PDF and jpeg formats

·         Other photography of Narara Ecovillage site and community members at work and play


About Narara Ecovillage (NEV):

After 10 years of dreaming, planning, meetings and worldwide fact-finding, the Narara Ecovillage (NEV) Co-operative was formed in 2012 with the aim to research, design and build a stylish, inter-generational, friendly demonstration ecovillage at Narara. NEV is founded on the three pillars of sustainable communities: ecological, economic and social. The community has 160 members from all walks of life and spanning several generations, making it one of Australia’s largest Ecovillages. Comprising 63 hectares of largely native forest, of which more than half is forested conservation areas, the former Gosford Horticultural Institute site is adjacent to the existing community of Narara on the outskirts of Gosford, one hour from Sydney. For more information on the project including monthly open days, talks and other events, visit:


About the NEV Smart Grid:

The Narara Ecovillage Smart Grid was developed with the expert advice and support of Beast Solutions, CSIRO, SwitchDin and AusGRID following a 2014 feasibility study enabled by a grant of $70,000 from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. The self-contained, computerised local electricity grid is designed to manage the consumption and storage of energy for 150 homes as well as communal and commercial facilities. Learnings from monitoring its application in the first 60 homes will be made publicly available through ARENA.

The Smart Grid is designed to:

  • ·         Monitor loads and determine usage patterns

·         Store excess power in batteries for use when needed

·         Meet community demands using solar photovoltaic cells and battery systems

·         Draw from the grid when required but also supply excess power to the local network

·         Predict and operate around changeable weather conditions including cloudy days

·         Share power around the village using ‘smart’ controls and deliver low-cost energy to residents

·         Produce operational net zero carbon emissions in line with NEV’s high building standards, which require individual houses to produce enough energy for their own use annually

For more information, please contact:

Rachel Harris  / 0498 140 433 /