An ambitious Perth developer has gained approval for the first strata complex in Australia to offer shared solar and battery storage, promising to cut resident energy bills by 30 per cent.

The Evermore WGV project by Yolk Property Group, based at LandCorp’s White Gum Valley development near Fremantle, will feature 24 apartments that are also being built based on Bioregional’s One Planet Living framework.

The battery storage and solar element marks the commercial rollout of a battery storage trial at White Gum Valley, which has been spearheaded by Curtin University’s Jemma Green.

When complete, the combined solar and storage will form a microgrid that residents will draw their power from. This is expected to cover 80 per cent of the apartments’ power, with the rest coming from the main grid. With strata fees going to a strata body sinking fund to pay for upkeep/upgrades to the technology, residents are estimated to enjoy a 30 per cent electricity bill cut.

Ms Green said Curtin research had created the governance framework and micro-grid system for solar PV and batteries to be used in strata contexts, which was an Australian first that could lead to huge grid energy reductions.

“Our research has revealed that solar PV and lithium battery storage technology can supply up to 80 per cent of power needs leading to a significant saving on power bills as electricity from the grid is reduced dramatically,” she said.

While high costs have mostly kept developers away from battery technology, a $280,000 ARENA grant has made this development possible, but with ongoing reductions in costs and the demonstration that it can work well in strata contexts, Ms Green hopes more developers will jump onboard with battery storage. This is already happening in the detached home market, including in Melbourne, where it was recently announced that 49 homes would be fitted with solar panels and batteries to create a micro grid capable of reducing mains energy by 70 per cent.

(L-R): Yolk directors Tao Bourton and Pete Adams

The apartment complex also features a host of other sustainability features, with Yolk co-director Pete Adams saying he wanted to create the “greenest apartments Perth has ever seen”.

“Every aspect of this development is being shaped by our goal to make these apartments as sustainable and close to zero-carbon as possible,” he said.

Sustainability features include:

  • real-time measurement and recording of water and power consumption
  • passive design with north-facing living spaces and balconies across all apartments to maximise sunlight and cross-ventilation
  • a third-pipe and greywater treatment and reuse systems
  • a site-wide bore system
  • an electric vehicle charging point
  • compost tumblers, worm farm and communal veggie planters
  • a bicycle repair station, communal bicycles for resident’s use and bicycle storage for each apartment

Mr Adams said Bioregional’s One Planet Living framework would guide development.

“Bolt-on solutions have no place at Evermore – what we are aiming to produce is an apartment that encourages sustainability long after residents have been handed the key, hence the incorporation of transport and food initiatives,” he said.

“We expect purchasers to be those that are passionate about preserving the earth’s resources for future generations and are committed to reducing their carbon footprint; they are really the ideal resident.”

Mr Adams said he knew the development was a risk but was happy to play “guinea pig” if it meant progressing sustainable development.

Construction of Evermore WGV is expected to commence in early 2017 and be complete by early 2018.

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