Beechworth - Solar Integrity
Narrator: Nestled in the Northeast of Victoria, the legacy of the gold rush era during the mid-1800s still adorns the main street of Beechworth. These early colonial beginnings were marked by prospectors who rushed here in search of alluvial wealth. And it's this boom time from the subsequent gold rush years that made it the epicentre for the region. Although today, Beechworth is most notably a tourist town, which is more famous for the legacy of one Bushranger who was synonymous with Australian folklore. And it's the Beechworth Gaol that houses the stories from this bygone era.
Clayton: The old Beechworth Gaol was constructed between 1857 and 1864. It's been home to some of Australia's most notorious criminals, including Ned Kelly. Not only Ned, but the rest of his gang were also in here at different stages.v
Narrator: The outlaw Kelly Gang were made famous by the siege at Glenrowan, where after years on the run, their final stand saw a shootout with the police. The gang, dressed in their iconic suits of armour, were immortalised in the public eye as rebels, standing up against the government and the British Empire in their crusade for justice for the rural poor.
Clayton: So cell number 30 was Ned's cell after the Glenrowan Siege. Ned was transported to Melbourne immediately after the Glenrowan Siege, and then transported back up to Beechworth for his committal hearing.
Narrator: Ned was later taken to Melbourne where after being convicted for his crimes and at the age of just 25, he met he his end at the gallows. For all of this iconic Australian history, this regional Victorian township is now pioneering its very own energy future with the aim of giving the power back to the people, and it's Bobbi who is helping lead the charge with solar power.
Bobbi: There's a huge buzz surrounding this installation at the Beechworth Gaol. It was the first community-owned solar system locally. So it was a real success, in that we were able to work with Heritage Victoria, and have the outcome that everybody desired.
Narrator: With the Beechworth Gaol now a hive of social enterprise for the local community, this 30-kilowatt LG solar system being installed today is testament to the increasing self-sufficiency of the local community who are now creating their very own energy network.
Bobbi: The installation came about here through the relationship of our local community energy retailer called Indigo Power, which is locally-owned, and all that money that normally leaves our area through people's electricity bills, will actually start to stay local and be reinvested locally as well. So it's quite exciting.
Narrator: With the electricity created from this new system helping to power local businesses and the nearby township, it's this sense of taking back control of the local energy supply that is fueling community energy projects like these all around the Indigo Shire.
Bobbi: You have this real sense of being able to build a sustainable future, not only for the building, but for the broader community as well, where there's less dependence on our old-fashioned electricity grid.
Narrator: It's this community ownership and that old fashioned do-it-yourself mentality behind projects like these that makes regional townships pull their sleeves up so they can be ever more self-sufficient. And it's this achievement that fills the town with pride and joy.
Bobbi: We were pretty excited to turn the system on here, because of our deep connection to the community, and our passion for renewables, and our passion about bringing the future and the history together. We were super excited about turning this system on.
Narrator: Further out towards the border of New South Wales, homeowners from Yackandandah to Albury are also decreasing their dependence on coal fired electricity with the installation of solar power. Although investing in high-quality solar power here is just one side to the equation of energy independence for homeowners, with the other side focusing on decreasing energy losses by building ever more airtight homes.
Brendon: If you're going to heat something, you just only want to do it once and hold that heat. The leakage is what is really the crucial part that you need to get hold of.
Narrator: And it's by reducing the amount of air leakage in a home, using in this case, a European designed air circulation and heat recovery system that is hidden in this roof, plus an advanced taping and insulation membrane hidden within these walls, that culminates together to help create this 10-star energy rated home.
Tape it all the way around the doors, the windows, the walls to the floor, from the floor to the ceiling. It's used extensively.
Narrator: This technology is also coupled with a building technique that avoids traditional materials like bricks, that hold and trap heat, or fixtures and fittings that add to energy losses.
Bobbi: Building house like this is about keeping your costs or your outgoings as low as possible. So less heating, less cooling, all those sorts of things come into play. So as that, that way, you're saving more for the future.
Narrator: And it's this level of energy efficiency with our homes that we should all be aspiring to as the gold standard, because it's the cheapest and most economical way of decreasing your energy costs. With also a solar system and solar storage battery, it's homeowners, builders like Brendon and installers like Bobbi, that are taking back the power one house at a time, and by doing so, are the new pioneers carving the path forward to a more sustainable future.