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Student housing goes solar

After 18 months of “bureaucracy” and jumping through regulatory hoops, the students of Sydney’s Stucco apartments have finally achieved their goal of spearheading a “solar revolution,” the ABC reports.

The social housing apartment block in Newtown has become one of the first multi-dwelling buildings in Australia to install a shared solar and battery storage system.

Last week 30 kilowatts of solar panels were placed on the roofs and 36 batteries set up in the building totalling 42.3kW storage capacity.

The solar system will now provide 80 per cent of the residents’ energy needs, with the remainder of electricity drawn from the grid.

Each student is expected to save up to $35 a month on their electricity bill.

“As poor uni students, that difference in a bill makes a huge difference,” Sarah King, Stucco committee president, resident and social work student, said.

“There’s also the great feeling of using green clean energy as opposed to dirty coal.

“As a cooperative, it’s quite empowering to have your own locally sourced power system, otherwise you’re quite vulnerable to what electricity companies are going to charge you.

“State and federal governments don’t seem to be doing much for climate change … so we do feel like we’ve made a difference by demonstrating a project that hasn’t been done before.”

Stucco is a cooperative, not-for-profit housing complex for low-income students from Sydney University.

There are 40 residents in the eight units who each pay about $90 in weekly rent.

As a cooperative, the students self-manage the property, which is part-owned by the university and the Department of Housing.

The solar and battery system is expected to take about six to seven years to pay for itself, although Mr Janse Van Rensburg said the long-term gain and savings far outweighed the cost of the system.

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Stucco students install one of Australia’s first shared solar and battery systems for apartment block (ABC News)

Large image: Louis Janse Van Rensburg says a fire-safe compound was built to protect the 36 solar storage batteries. (702 ABC Sydney: Amanda Hoh)