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Melbourne multi-res project powered by solar panels and batteries

A new multi-res project by Chamberlain Architects will include 49 homes, all connected to a mini-solar grid.

The $30 million Merri Green development in Northcote, Victoria will see 20 homes and 29 apartments hooked up to solar panels and batteries to create a mini grid.

This grid, created by Codstream (the company of local resident and campaigner Ramon Collodetti) will allow the homes to share power and is expected to cut consumption from the conventional grid by up to 70 per cent.

Consultancy Generation Shared, the project manager, is designing the network infrastructure, while Bradford Solar is assisting with the software algorithms and implementing the installation of the panels with Tesla batteries.

Each house will have a 6.4kWh battery and the apartments will share a Tesla Powerpack.

While rooftop solar panels aren’t new, connecting homes together to share and store power over a small local network is.

“The difference here is that rather than each house having its own separate system, we’re connecting the batteries up and keeping all the systems in an array,” Collodetti told The Australian Financial Review.

“We’re creating an energy network on the site, with shared power through the batteries.”

A system such as this also suggests a threat to traditional electricity companies, as residents make use of new technology to create their own networks.

Collodetti hopes Merri Green would become a prototype for similar mini networks in established suburbs.

“The implication here is that we can then retrofit suburbs with our infrastructure and take existing suburbs down to 30 per cent dependency on the grid,” he said.

“That will offset the need to implement upgrades and build new infrastructure to cater for the eight days of peak each year. That’s what I’m really interested in.”


Merri Green is a development of luxury eco apartments and townhouses, which is surrounded by Merri Creek and the Northcote Golf Course. As an alternative to the traditional family home, the project’s townhouses represent a low maintenance, sustainable lifestyle without compromising on amenity or quality.


Developer Glenvill is planning a 16-hectare site in Alphington, Melbourne, in which every house will have a Powerwall and solar panels. Lendlease are also putting them into its 710-hectare Alkimos Beach project (designed by architect Michael Chapman) in Perth.


The relatively new phenomenon of ‘hybrid solar’ generally comes about by combining a typical grid-connected photovoltaics (PV) system with batteries. The technology means residences and businesses can store excess power, to offset peak load, for night-time use or to possibly even take a household or business off the grid.

The systems generally use a smart inverter to channel power from the sun directly into a building, for use as required. Any excess electricity can be directed back into the grid (to benefit from feed-in tariffs), or to the system’s batteries for evening and morning use.

Even without solar panels, the batteries can also draw power from the grid during ‘off-peak’ period and store it for use later when the grid has moved to peak.

This all sounded pretty great only last year when we first wrote about solar storage. At the time, it seemed to be only just peeking over the horizon. Energy companies were fighting fiercely to have both large and small scale Renewable Energy Targets either cut or abolished.

That trend is headed squarely in the other direction. Solar is unlikely to lose government support in the medium term. For instance, the Labor Party announced plans for a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030 if it wins government.

What’s more relevant is the rapid improvement in technology and its economic viability.

And the power companies have switched tacks and are looking for a slice of the action, launching their own solar battery offerings.

There’s no shortage of hyperbole. Analysts are likening the change the technology will bring to the energy industry to that which the mobile phone brought to telecommunications.

It’s “the biggest change in their industry in more than a century”, according to Giles Parkinson from Renew Economy. A “complete game-changer” for Bloomberg energy finance analyst Kobad Bhavnagri.

The Clean Energy Council has concluded that ‘embedded generation’ like solar PV will soon become the primary source of power of power to household, with grid-supplied power becoming a “a safety net supplier of last resort”.

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