Australian uni students pioneer world-first solar and storage project

A group of Sydney university students have built a huge solar and storage system, which could see cheaper power bills for millions of Australians renting or living in apartments.

Forty students in Newtown have built a solar PV and battery system at their low-income student housing co-operative Stucco, which is the first in Australia that connects apartment dwellers.

The Stucco project is groundbreaking because for the first time ever it shows how landlords or a body corporate can sell solar power to tenants, which can pay off the cost of having solar panels installed.

The huge 30 kilowatt solar system, which is integrated through software with a storage system of 36 Enphase AC Batteries, is estimated to cover 80 per cent of the students’ power needs, drastically lowering their bills and protecting them against future power price rises.

Former Stucco resident Dr Bjorn Sturmberg said it took more than a year to invent a way of getting around the technical barriers and red tape that has until now stopped other apartment owners or body corporates in the past.

“There are more than 1.5 million homes with solar in Australia, but there are very few apartment blocks with solar, and certainly none with energy storage,” he said.

“This project shows that with the right technology, landlords can essentially become power providers for their tenants, and there are plenty of benefits for tenants too.”

Stucco president Sarah King said the number of apartment buildings is booming and finding ways to increase solar adoption makes sense for both financial and environmental reasons.

“We’re a bunch of uni students who are trying to make a difference. We’re showing that families, renters, everyone can benefit from cheaper bills and protect themselves from price shocks,” Ms King said.

Installer Jonathan Fisk said this project is not just an Australian-first but a world-first.

“This is the largest storage system in the world using Enphase AC Batteries – with the modular design of the battery making it a perfect fit for use in a multi-dwelling application,” he said.

“Solaray is proud to be involved with such a landmark project, and we would encourage developers and body corporate groups to start thinking about solar and storage as a viable and potentially profitable option.”