Zero Carbon Energy

Energy Consumption and Costs – Performance of the Shire’s Assets

The Shire of Denmark subscribes to Planet Footprint’s environmental scorekeeper service, which works with the Shire and utility providers to collect and report the energy and water performance data for the Shire’s assets. The subscription allows the Shire to proactively manage its energy and water consumption and costs to make quick decisions, identify basic performance problems and opportunities to improve performance. Although not mandated by legislation, the aim is to expand the reporting to include greenhouse gas emissions and setting of targets.

Annual energy performance data (from 2012-2013) can be found in the Shire's Annual reports at http://www.denmark.wa.gov.au/documents/?categoryId=40

Electric Vehicle Charging Station

In an effort to increase the number of electric and hybrid vehicles located in or visiting the South Coast, the Shire of Denmark is offering commuters with electric and hybrid vehicles free use of a dedicated charging station (socket outlet), located at the Shire’s Administration building (near Council Chambers).

Commuter Car Park

The Shire of Denmark provides a commuter car park to support sustainable car travel outside of the area. Promoting car pooling for people that have to travel to Albany for work or other purposes is a major reason for this facility. Car pooling reduces commuting costs, fatigue and your carbon energy footprint. The average Australian car produces 4 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year so every journey saved makes a real difference to greenhouse emissions. With increased pressure for parking spaces in town, the commuter car park provides a well located area for car pooling drivers to leave their car when they travel outside of the area. The commuter car park will also free up town car parks for businesses and facilities for locals and tourists alike. The commuter car park is located on South Coast Highway between the Shire Office and Denmark Country Club tennis courts.

The new commuter car park provides a central location for car pooling with colleagues and assists in avoiding numerous pickups and drop offs. Add to this the environmental and financial savings associated with car pooling it makes good sense to utilise this new facility developed by the Shire of Denmark.

In Australia, transport is the fastest growing sector contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and enormous amounts of resources, land and capital are bound up with cars. Therefore, car pooling will help to reduce the costs associated with car travel, which represents one of the biggest monthly expenditures for average families. Car pooling also provides the opportunity for a good chin-wag with a fellow traveller!

Total costs for a standard medium sized vehicle are approximately 70 cents per kilometre. So a return trip to Albany, when car payments and other costs are added, can be in the vicinity of $63 per journey. Most drivers only take into consideration fuel costs that would average at an estimated $15 per journey for a similar sized vehicle.

The Councillors and staff of the Shire of Denmark are actively supporting sustainability initiatives within the local area and this new Commuter Car Park facility takes the Shire in a new direction that is providing transport options for the local and regional community. The Shire encourages businesses in the region to support workers who live in Denmark to car pool, as this will help reduce their need for employee parking and improve their employee’s well-being and performance.

Can’t find a lift? Try the free ‘Share Your Ride’ website.

Car Pooling

The Shire of Denmark’s Administration Building Has Gone Solar

Energy efficiency measures and a significant upgrade to the existing solar panel at the Shire of Denmark administration building has dramatically reduced the annual operating costs and added to Denmark’s long term sustainability. With costs associated with energy significantly rising and predicted to consistently rise into the future, the motivation was to save money via the new renewable and energy efficiency measures whilst also reducing the organisation’s carbon footprint to address climate change at a local level.

In December 2012, Great Southern Solar, a local Denmark business, was awarded a contract to expand the existing solar panel array from 6 to 32.5 Kilowatts. The intended outcome from this expansion was to remove the administration building’s dependence on the regional electricity grid through generating 117 Kilowatt hours of energy per day through the solar system. It is also intended to provide a backup for the computer servers in the building via the battery energy storage system.

Shire Solar Panels

Implementing recommendations from an energy audit undertaken for the administration building also meaningfully added to carbon and energy efficiency benefits from the solar panel expansion. There are significant energy and financial savings that can be realised through identifying and acting upon simple, immediately achievable actions. The old adage of getting at ‘the low hanging fruit’ first and foremost gives great results. Acting upon the low hanging fruit can realise, on average, an easily achievable 10- 20% energy efficiency gain for most organisations and homes, with minimal financial investment.

Simple energy efficiency improvement measures implemented within the administration building have included replacing old lighting with LED technology as a part of ongoing maintenance, and increasing roof cavity insulation to improve thermal performance of the building with minimal investment. Another key measure was to set the cooling temperature of the air conditioning to 23 degrees that will significantly reduce energy requirements over summer.

Questions Frequently Asked About the Administration Building’s Solar PV Panels

How many new solar photovoltaic (PV) panels were added to the Administration building?

110

What is the total number of panels now at the Administration building?

140 (30 were installed in 2009).

How much power is generated by the new integrated system?

32.5 kW in bright sunshine (upgraded from 6kW)

What is the estimated savings in electricity charges?

Approximately $13,500 per year (this figure will increase as electricity charges per unit increase).

What is the cost of a Panel upgrade?

$75,000

How long did the actual construction of the expanded solar PV take?

Three weeks

How effective is a solar system in terms of value for money?

The return on the investment is equivalent to 15% interest, which means that there is return on capital investment of 100% over 6 years for the Administration building upgrade.

What are the benefits of installing a solar PV energy system?

Reduced costs of running the Shire Administration building, reduced carbon footprint, limiting the impact of future electricity price rises and access cheaper grid power.

How does a solar PV system work / operate?

Sunlight hitting the panels is converted into electricity which is in turn converted into 240 volt AC by a bank of inverters ready for use by the Shire.

Why did the Shire of Denmark choose to expand its Solar PV system?

It was a good financial investment and demonstrated the Shire’s commitment to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.

Are solar systems effective during winter?

Yes, the system will produce about half of the summer peak in winter.  This is due to the premium technology solar panels that have been used in the system.

What is the projected output of energy from the new solar PV system?

Allowing for Denmark weather patterns, the average energy output is predicted to be 117 units/day.

Will the system produce more power than the Shire uses?

The system will produce excess power on the weekends due to lower consumption by the building when vacant. This power is fed back to the Western Power network.

Why does the solar power output vary so much?

The power output is dependent upon level of sunlight intensity, ambient temperature and even high level cloud.  The average output takes all this variation into account.

Is the system producing as much as expected?

The system has been operating since December 2012 and produces an average of 112 units/day. This is very close to the output expected.

Website links

Switch the Future energy saving tips
Sustainability in the home resources
Australian Government guide to building, buying or renovating environmentally sustainable homes
Climate change in Australia