Residents at Sydney student housing co-op Stucco in Newtown have seen huge reductions to their power bills thanks to a combined solar and battery system installed last year. After a year of operation, Stucco has confirmed a reduction of around 55 per cent to residents' bills, with the building generating more energy than it used in 2017.
We visited Stucco last year to check out the system for ourselves, and you can read about that visit here:
Since the Tesla Powerwall burst onto the scene less than two years ago, home batteries have never seemed like a smarter or more viable investment for households with solar. Soon enough it wasn't just Tesla - other options quickly began popping up on the market, giving us a vast variety of batteries for all different homes with all different needs.
Now that the system has been in use for over a year, Stucco has released some figures on what the solar and batteries have done for its residents. With 114 solar panels and 36 Enphase modular batteries, electricity bills have been dropped by around 55 per cent.
In 2017 residents paid around $240 per year for electricity, which dropped from a bill of around $540 when buying from a traditional retailer. The co-op acts as an embedded network manager and retailer, meaning occupants buy their electricity straight from Stucco so long as there is solar energy being produced or stored electricity available from the batteries.
"The results show solar and storage solutions can help Australia’s apartment sector access clean, renewable energy, and also cut high costs of living for Sydney tenants," said Bjorn Sturmberg, who spearheaded the project during his time at Stucco. "For too long, Australia’s solar revolution has been confined to owner-occupier properties, and renters have been excluded from these opportunities, leaving them locked into dirty energy and exposed to skyrocketing electricity prices." Sturmberg now heads up SunTenants, which helps get more solar onto rental homes.
Unfortunately there are still a number of regulatory barriers to getting solar onto strata, which Strumberg wrote about after his experience with the Stucco project:
While there are now more solar panels in Australia than people, the many Australians who live in apartments have largely been locked out of this solar revolution by a minefield of red tape and potentially uninformed strata committees.
Hopefully the success of projects like Stucco's will help clear the red tape and introduce more solar-friendly regulations for apartment buildings, especially as more of our population moves towards high density housing.