Power Melbourne rounds out community workshops in Docklands

Sean Car

A community battery scheme to bring renewable energy to apartment buildings has finished a series of workshops with local leaders.

The final workshop with a select group of “Power Melbourne” volunteers, which was held at Community Hub at the Dock on August 31, sought to further understand how neighbourhood batteries can work in an inner-urban context.

The initiative aims to give everyone (not just homeowners) access to affordable renewable energy through a series of mid-scale batteries, with the first three set to be installed at Library at the Dock in Docklands, Boyd Community Hub in Southbank and Council House in the CBD in 2024.

Most apartment dwellers, and by extension Docklanders, are locked out of renewable energy options like rooftop solar.

However, Power Melbourne hopes to eventually solve this by storing cheap, renewable energy in a network of batteries throughout the city.

In April, project partners the Cities of Melbourne, Port Phillip and Yarra selected 25 “community champions” from a broad range of backgrounds to represent their communities and operate as sounding boards on the initiative.

Since this time, the volunteers have taken part in training to understand more about neighbourhood batteries and share details of the initiative within their personal and professional networks.

One community champion, local business owner and former CBD resident Vaibhav Agarwal (pictured right) told Docklands News that the council’s decision to select community members to champion Power Melbourne was a “worthwhile” and “important first step” for the program.



Mr Agarwal, who is the founder of company Lifetime Renewable Energy, already has extensive knowledge in the sector, which he said had proven valuable in mentoring other “champions” and educating the community.

“It [becoming a community champion] was a no brainer for me,” Mr Agarwal said. “This is what I do day in, day out, is talking to people [about renewable energy].”

“The idea of being a champion is about my voice getting heard in the community. When we talk about communities, the biggest challenge that I can see or have faced is basically the knowledge or understanding of renewables,” he said.

“The basic goal for many people is about how it can help them financially. So, the bigger and the better version of it is how they can contribute towards the environment, towards the calamity that what we are facing in the changes we are seeing in the climate. But basically, that’s not their priority goal.”

“The priority goal for many is more focused on how they can be benefited through the financial side of it, but it all requires education, proper nurturing, and proper conversations. It may take some time, but again we need to get started from somewhere and I believe this is a start.” 

Feedback volunteers share from their community conversations will be integrated into the findings of the project, according to the City of Melbourne.

“Our landmark Power Melbourne project will help to transition city businesses and residents to renewables – creating more efficient, affordable and green energy,” Lord Mayor Sally Capp said. 

“We know access to affordable clean energy sources is vital, and we’re continuing to work with our community champions to better understand the needs of each neighbourhood.”

Power Melbourne is part of a wider push to have the entire City of Melbourne municipality powered by 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030. •

For more information: participate.melbourne.vic.gov.au/power-melbourne

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May 1st, 2024 - Sean Car
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