NSW retirement village The Links, South West Rocks will recover the $1.2 million cost of deploying an Enphase-based renewable energy microgrid, which lowers power costs for residents, within five years.
On the New South Wales Mid North coast, between Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie, South West Rocks is a popular destination for smart retirees seeking a sustainable and comfortable beachside lifestyle community. The Links, South West Rocks is a gated land lease village that will ultimately have 199 dwellings.
A key attraction for this carbon-neutral community is an embedded electricity network in which most houses have a photovoltaic (PV) solar array of 16 x 370-watt panels. Each panel is equipped with an Enphase IQ 7+ä microinverter to harvest and share solar energy throughout the village, including common use facilities such as swimming pools, the bowling club and streetlights.
The Links, South West Rocks’ embedded network is owned by the village operator which can sell excess solar-generated electricity to the grid, bulk-buy all extra required electricity and deliver it at a lower price to residents, offering a win-win outcome for both residents and the environment.
Stuart Watson, a solar consultant who is working with the system installer Wauchope Solar, said the completed system would scale up to 1.2 megawatts peak on completion. “After coming up with a bulletproof network design including detailed voltage rise calculations, we’ve signed a grid connection agreement with energy distributor Essential Energy, which has been very cooperative,” he said.
“Currently there are already 14 occupied houses which, due to COVID19, are selling faster than expected as people move to South West Rocks looking for a safe place to retire on the coast.
“We chose to use Enphase microinverter-equipped Jinko solar panels to do standardised installs throughout the village, which will show the benefits to owners of an embedded network. Residents will get a lower cost and more reliable electricity supply while the village operator, Sea Spirit Lifestyle Communities, estimates total payback in less than five years, which is in line with commercial rooftop solar installs. We hope to support the network with a community battery in the future.”
While the first phase of the microgrid involves only PV solar generation and reticulation within the village, the system’s design allows for the deployment of a large battery storage system when this becomes commercially viable. Each home in the village is prewired with heat pump hot water systems and electric vehicle charging circuits from day one.
The Links, South West Rocks has also signed an initial electricity supply agreement with Enova Community Energy, a social enterprise energy retailer that delivers 100 per cent renewably-sourced energy.
Mr Watson said Sea Spirit chose Enphase for the project because of its simple all-AC installation, design flexibility – microinverters allow solar panels to be installed anywhere on the roof with no stringing restrictions – smart network connectivity, zero DC arc fault fire risk, and proven reliability. “In our business case for the developer, we demonstrated that the quality of Enphase microinverters represented better value long-term than cheaper string inverters,” he said.
“Because we attach an Enphase microinverter to each solar panel, it is a simple ‘cookie-cutter’ kit to install. This also avoids the need to find a location on the building for a large inverter box.
“Enphase also provides greater safety because it converts the solar-generated DC electricity to safer AC power at the panel, which means there’s no problem with high voltage DC electricity running through the roof, which occurs with string inverter systems. So, simplicity, flexibility, safety, premium yield and quality were the compelling reasons why Sea Spirit chose Enphase.”
Enphase Energy Australia General Manager Wilf Johnston said The Links, South West Rocks was a leading example of how to deploy renewable energy and full home electrification to create energy independent and carbon-neutral communities. “It’s very satisfying to see Enphase technology play a part in this compelling, commercially viable showcase for the future of smart, green living in Australia,” he said.”
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Learn more about The Links South West Rocks https://thelinkssouthwestrocks.com.au
About Enphase Energy
Enphase Energy, a global energy technology company, delivers smart, easy-to-use solutions that manage solar generation, storage, and communication on one intelligent platform. The Company revolutionized the solar industry with its microinverter-based technology and produces a fully integrated solar-plus-storage solution. Enphase has shipped more than 36 million microinverters, and approximately 1.5 million Enphase-based systems have been deployed in more than 130 countries. For more information, visit www.enphase.com/au and follow the company on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
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