From January 2023, new apartment buildings in Victoria seeking to operate an embedded network must use 100 per cent renewable electricity and generate at least 5 per cent from on-site renewable energy such as solar and or geothermal energy.
With 29 per cent of Australians living in either apartments or townhouses, embedded networks are integral to achieving cost effective, carbon neutral outcomes through an apartment building’s lifecycle.
August 2022 saw the Victorian Government announce restrictions on the implementation of embedded networks in new apartment buildings. From January 2023 embedded networks in all new apartment buildings are subject to these changes.
Embedded networks are privately owned and managed electricity networks. Rather than individual residents organising their own individual electricity supply contracts, embedded networks supply a building with electricity in bulk, connecting multiple residents within a building.
The Victorian Government’s 2021 Issues Paper outlined the key issues giving rise to the embedded network review, focusing on lack of consumer protections and access to competitive electricity rates. Residents living with embedded networks are limited to a selected electricity retailer, which may leave some residents feeling “locked in”.
Our submission to the Victorian Government’s 2021 Issues Paper advocated strongly for the improved use of embedded networks. They are integral to achieving cost effective, carbon neutral outcomes through an apartment building’s lifecycle.
With 29 per cent of Australians living in either apartments or townhouses according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there should be firmer limitations around the use of embedded networks.
How can embedded networks promote the benefit of onsite renewable energy generation?
All-electric apartment buildings maximise roof top solar to generate as much onsite renewable energy as possible. In our apartment buildings, we rely on an embedded network to meter electricity generated by solar panels and to share the benefit equally amongst all residents and commercial uses within the apartment buildings we develop.
How can embedded networks assist our transition to renewables?
Renewable energy is made more accessible via an embedded network.
At handover on our apartment buildings we opt for 100 per cent GreenPower: a government-accredited renewable energy product meeting stringent environment standards.
At present, GreenPower demands a higher than standard electricity, with the premium invested back into the renewable energy industry via new energy generators across Australia.
The Clean Energy Regulator estimates the cost of 100 per cent GreenPower to be 5-8 cents more per kilowatt hour than the standard electricity rate. An embedded network enables an apartment building to “bulk-buy” Green Power at comparable rates to the standard electricity rate. It enables the cost-effective administration of central systems such as hot water, heating and cooling and electric vehicles.
Apartment occupants can easily be charged for the renewable energy they do consume via the embedded network’s metering and administrative systems, whilst the benefit of any energy generated on-site can also be shared equally amongst all owners, occupants and users.
What do the new restrictions entail, and what does this mean for our built environment?
The Victorian Government has indicated their reforms will occur in two phases, with the first phase to take effect next year.
From January 2023, new apartment buildings seeking to operate an embedded network must use 100 per cent renewable electricity and generate at least 5 per cent from on-site renewable energy such as solar and or geothermal energy.
The proposed changes for 2023 present a key opportunity for our cities.
Let’s use embedded networks to support the operation of zero carbon buildings and precincts.
Let’s use it as an opportunity to promote innovation, with more sustainable forms of energy for our new homes and new electric vehicles.
Let’s utilise embedded networks as a tool to support our goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 – or better yet, 2045, should the Victorian Government’s election promise come to fruition.