Ripley working towards being Queensland’s largest private community energy network

Ripley Town Centre
Ripley Town Centre

Sekisui House Australia—master developer of Ripley Town Centre in south-east Queensland’s western growth corridor—and energy partner WINConnect share a common vision to deliver what is believed to be Queensland’s largest HV private community energy network once complete, providing a win-win for consumers within the masterplan development.

The benefits associated with the private community energy network at Ripley Town Centre are far reaching, from lower tariff costs and tariff protection, to future proofing for potential advances in sustainable solutions across the 31-hectare site.

Importantly, profits made through the network are invested back into the community to, for example, maintain existing infrastructure and upgrade community spaces.

Ripley Masterplan Map
Ripley masterplan map

While the concept of embedded energy networks is not new, WINConnect executive chairman Tom Patsakos said Ripley Town Centre is the first ever township to commission one.

“To my knowledge, there is yet to be an entire town on a community energy network, excluding small mining towns,” he said.

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“The reason it’s not common is because most developers don’t have the foresight that Sekisui House does to plan ahead. Most developers will engage a community energy network after they have already commenced construction and by that stage it’s too late.

“While embedded energy networks have over time been designed to serve the purposes of the developer, our approach is to spread the value generated from the network equitably among key stakeholders, including the community.”

Sekisui House Australia senior development manager Taku Hashimoto said Ripley Town Centre is making energy more affordable for its consumers.

Ripley Town Centre

“Consumers that are currently taking advantage of the network are realising savings of up to 25 per cent, which may increase in time and create further savings through reduced rates and outgoings as the development grows and more sustainable solutions are realised,” he said.

“We have the ability to not only generate energy on site via our solar structures, but purchase additional energy at the 11,000V bulk rate and feed that power into the network—no energy leaves the community.

“Ipswich City Council is also working with us to grant permission to cross public roads in order to extend the network, which we believe is the first time a local Council has ever been involved.”

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A private energy sub-station was commissioned at Ripley Town Centre in 2018 as part of Stage One of the masterplan to service its more than 20 retailers.

The network also makes use of the 480kW solar panel system positioned on the roof of Ripley Town Centre and its carpark structure, which delivers clean and sustainable energy to the community.

“With less capital expenditure, a community energy network removes the barriers that have historically prevented developers from investing in renewables and allows us to share the benefits of locally produced energy,” Mr Hashimoto said.

“This is a long-term, sustainable solution for Ripley Town Centre and we believe this private community energy network is a first for a masterplan community. We truly want to be sustainable and use our network to give back to the community while reducing our overall carbon footprint.”

As future stages of the masterplan development come to fruition in the coming years, it is anticipated additional sub-stations will be commissioned onto the private community energy network to make way for new infrastructure, generating upwards of 8MVA.

To find out more about the Ripley Town Centre masterplan vision, visit the Ripley Town Centre website.