Electrify 2515: Australia’s First Fully Electric Community?

Electrify 2515

Rewiring Australia is hoping to subsidise and support around 500 households in New South Wales’ 2515 postcode area to go fully electric.

Rewiring Australia was launched last year by Dr. Saul Griffith with a goal of accelerating the full electrification of Australian households. Part of the initiative includes pilot programs showing how this can be done now; demonstrating the benefits of converting an entire community to fully electric appliances and vehicles, and building the case for widespread adoption sooner rather than later.

Electrify 2515 could be the first pilot, getting 500 households in the 2515 postcode area to go all-electric in 6 ways:

  • Rooftop solar
  • Home battery
  • Induction cooking
  • Reverse-cycle air conditioner
  • Heat pump hot water
  • Electric vehicle

The 2515 postcode is in the Wollongong area and includes the following locations:

  • Austinmer
  • Clifton
  • Coledale
  • Scarborough
  • Thirroul
  • Wombarra

Residents in these locations have been invited to register their interest in receiving support to fully electrify their homes. Renters can also get involved, assuming cooperation from their landlords. The program is expected to run over two years.

Electrify 2515 Details Still Sketchy

Rewiring Australia says the average Australian household can save $5,000 per year on their energy and fuel costs by going fully electric. But making the switch can be pretty pricey in terms of up-front costs.

At this stage Rewiring Australia is looking at giving participating households electrified appliances they don’t already have (e.g., induction cooktops and split system air conditioners) and loaning them an electric vehicle.

” This will cut your running costs by an average of 30%, saving you thousands on your energy and fuel bills. At the end of the 2 years, you get to keep the appliances and have the option to buy the EV at a discount.”

This EV “loan” appears to be a lease. The FAQ indicates participants would be charged around 4 cents per kilometre, but that’s much cheaper than running a petrol/diesel vehicle.

In terms of rooftop solar and home batteries, the solar aspect would be provided at a “heavily subsidised price” for households that don’t have solar panels installed. The household would keep the home battery supplied at the end of the two years. There’s no mention of any cost involved for the home battery, nor if it would be required to participate in a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) arrangement.

Before 2515 residents get too excited, the pilot program going ahead – and going ahead in the 2515 postcode – is by no means a done deal and many details need to be fleshed out. The nature of what’s on offer could change.

Rewiring Australia says it wants to select a pilot community in the first quarter of next year and begin rollout in mid-2023. It states 500 households is the minimum number required to demonstrate the technical and social viability of the program. Funding for this and other pilots is being sought through collaboration with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), state governments and industry.

Further information on Electrify 2515 can be found here.

Trivia: In the 2515 postcode area, more than 1,349 small-scale solar power systems had been installed as at June 30, 2022.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Wollongong local here. This is a really puzzling choice of postcode to select for this initiative. 2515 represents an incredibly wealthy area with house values typically in the $1-3 million range largely owned by relatively high income earners (median income $2418). These are some of the last people who need subsidies to lower their cost of living. It’s also a very leafy area with an escarpment immediately to the west which will severely limit solar generation potential for a lot of households. Meanwhile, just a little further south is a much lower socio-economic area (2518 median income of $1434) with far better solar resources as there is far less tree cover and the escarpment is much further west. Seems like a real missed opportunity if it goes ahead as planned.

    • Guy Redden says

      It would be nice if this scheme could be combined with social equity aims Dr Love. But I think the electrify strategy is to get middle class people with time, financial security and environmental inclinations to commit in the hope of proving the concept. I think the organisers have chosen the area for likely high levels of buy in to the pilot. In Australia especially, governments can expected to follow more than lead in such matters, so it seems a smart strategy for an NGO to link with the segment of the population already most able to consider investing in capital works that lead to future savings and environmental benefits – just as with solar installation generally. If this works I’d hope the next stage could be models including government subsidies and financing strategies to make this possible for all segments of the population. I certainly agree there need to be ways to ensure this approach is accessible – let’s hope 2515 can precisely show how electrification, saving money and emissions could be adopted more widely if we find ways to overcome the burden of upfront costs – which is what makes low carbon lifestyles impractical for so many.

      • I think you’re probably right Guy, I’m sure it’s much easier to sell this thing to a receptive audience. I just think the whole exercise would be much more valuable if, as you say ‘financing strategies to make this possible for all segments of the population’ was the aim from the beginning.

    • Jeremy Park says

      I’m a 2515 local and one of many in the community members helping putting this together. It’s a fair point made that we have indeed many wealthier residents and something we’re all aware of. I think it’s important to first note that Electrify2515 is a purely community run initiative and a completely seperate group to Rewiring Australia. Our efforts are just to get lots of other residents onboard, with some data collected, so we can pitch our postcode, 2515, to Rewiring Australia. The pilot Rewiring is talking about we want to happen here, but it isn’t a definite and nothing has been promised. If people in other suburbs would be keen to mobilise their own communities to advocate for another pilot to happen there then that would be most welcome from what I understand from Rewiring Australia.

      As an aside, I’m also involved in the “Voices of” political movement and feel it’s really similar in the way that grassroots action works when communities want change … and that blueprint, such as with Voices, can be replicated across different areas. The more people who show interest, the stronger the message is to government.

      The idea of the first suburb based pilot is to show that it’s technically (data driven) and socially viable. It’s to showcase how it could be rolled out across more communities and ultimately worldwide. I do to see the socio economic advantages that we have in 2515 and agree with some other points made in this comment section that this might in-fact help get it up. Lots of early adopters. After-all this is not going to be a free ride. Over 50% of people who have registered their interest in Electrify2515 already have solar, 25% have electric aircon and there are many houses (6%) already with EV’s. Indeed in my house we are already 100% there except for the gas cook top. So alot of the battle is already won in making the switch. I suggest Contact Rewiring Australia to express interest and reach out to Elecrtify2515.

  2. Guy Redden says

    I’m very interested to see induction cooktops included here. Reading the Rewiring Australia website it is hard to work out where energy efficiency and energy conservation fit their approach. They are mentioned, and clearly induction cooking and heat pump hot water are examples – but involve major purchases. It would be great to know the consumption measurements that back up the efficiency claims around induction cooking. I believe saving could be significant – but not many people are quantifying them beyond making theoretical observations about thermal efficiency. It’s like air fryers – theoretically they can pull the same wattage as conventional ovens like induction with electric cooktops. It’s the measured efficiencies in the ways they actually cook we need to understand.

    To be a bit more critical, it appears to me electrify focus only on big ticket appliances. Switching to LED lights, tap aerators and low flow shower heads can also make a significant impact. For example, I’m reaping huge water and electricity savings after replacing a 20L/min shower with a 5L/min one in a household with two residents teens, and many looong showers. And you would have thought including some ‘weatherization’ – insulation, shading, draft exclusion etc, would make the economics even more compelling – and make more renewable electricity available to others not able to fully electrify yet, potentially via local use of smart meters.

    • I beleave the induction cooktops are not about energy efficiency but more about replacing gas with electricity (which might be clean in 30 years).
      I recently changed from an old elements style cook top to an Induction cooktop and the cooking experience is SO much better.
      It is still just turning Electricity into heat so i dont think it would save a lot of power, but there would be small savings there. It heats the pots rather then an element under the pot so that would provide some efficiency, and the time cooking in much reduced, I expect there it just uses more electricity used to reduce the time but there would also be some savings on not having to wait very long while things are heating up.

      • Geoff Miell says

        James,
        I beleave the induction cooktops are not about energy efficiency but more about replacing gas with electricity (which might be clean in 30 years).

        Evidence/data says otherwise. Induction cooktops are substantially more energy efficient compared with gas cooktops:

        According to ENERGY STAR, induction cooktops are 5–10% more efficient than conventional electric cooktops and three times more energy-efficient than gas ranges.

        Induction cooktops transfer heat directly to the pan without waste, while gas cooktops waste some energy because they take longer to preheat.

        https://prudentreviews.com/gas-vs-induction-cooktops/#Energy-Efficiency

        Gas also poses a serious health concern, including asthma:

        Here is an under-recognised health problem with gas cooking. Studies (*) have linked gas cooktops to 12% of childhood asthma. When fossil gas, biogas, and gas mixes – including even so-called “clean” hydrogen – are burned, a list of chemicals and fine particulates (soot) are formed including sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, water, unburned methane, and even formaldehyde. These contaminants can become part of the air you breathe in your home.

        https://onestepoffthegrid.com.au/explainer-how-induction-cooktops-work-and-clear-the-air/

        There’s very good evidence/data that improved ventilation and air quality in enclosed spaces helps people perform better, and reduces other problems like asthma.
        https://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2021-09-11/covid-transmission-co2-carbon-dioxide-monitor-ventilation-school/100444884

        • Guy Redden says

          Thanks for the links Geoff. Pollution, safety, time saving etc all seem to be reasons to go for induction. I took James’ comment as referring to why the ‘electrify’ people had chosen induction cooktops, because they are electric technology with potential to be powered by renewables. The efficiency aspect is there in choosing the most efficient electric technologies available, but is not the main aim.

          5-10% lower energy use induction vs conduction hob for the same cooking outcomes would be welcome if that’s what the stat means. Saul Griffith does mention efficiency, but I haven’t found any accompanying analysis of the efficiency of induction cooking, only the oft repeated claim more energy (up to 90%) is used for heating. It seems likely energy savings are proportionate to the lower thermal loss of directly heating the pan, as both kinds of stoves still need to draw major watts to be converted into thermal energy in the first place.

          If anyone knows of any measurements of real world energy consumption for induction vs conduction for the same heat levels/durations/cooking outcomes please post. ‘Electrify’ style info on payback times for installation would then be possible for both consumers and governments. I’d be interested in the same for air fryers vs conventional ovens.

          In the meantime I think I’ll buy one of the following to see how cheaply I can cook morning porridge using it on an induction cooker attached to a power meter! https://reductionrevolution.com.au/products/billyboil-thermos-cooking-pot?_pos=2&_sid=57dbb30e9&_ss=r

          • Guy Redden says

            Just found this and sincerely hope the supposed efficiencies of induction are not mainly theoretical or a result of industry spruiking. https://www.aceee.org/files/proceedings/2014/data/papers/9-702.pdf
            Seems there are a few academic studies with different methodologies and there is no clear evidence that induction is always more efficient than electric, which makes me even more interested to find out the basis on which Griffiths and electrify prefer induction – maybe it’s not about efficiency at all, but safety and other benefits, or maybe the efficiencies are assumed, or growing as the technology develops – but still, who knows their true extent or whether they are worth the extra upfront cost if that money could be invested in other actions to combat climate change.

          • Geoff Miell says

            Guy Redden,
            If anyone knows of any measurements of real world energy consumption for induction vs conduction for the same heat levels/durations/cooking outcomes please post.

            A quick search found this:

            Cooking on an induction cooktop has plenty of benefits. Primary among them is the fact that they require far less energy to heat. Because they transfer heat directly to cookware, considerably less energy is lost through the cooking process. By some estimates, induction cooktops are capable of delivering as much as 90% of the electromagnetic energy generated to the food in the pan, compared to as little as 38% of the energy generated in gas ranges.

            https://www.cnet.com/home/kitchen-and-household/induction-vs-electric-cooktops-which-is-right-for-you-in-2021/

            Which led to the link to a July 2019 report by Frontier Energy Report # 501318071-R0 titled Residential Cooktop Performance and Energy Comparison Study: https://cao-94612.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/Induction-Range-Final-Report-July-2019.pdf

            Finn Peacock arranged a gas vs. induction cooktop field test in Feb 2021 – see the YouTube video from time interval 0:09:05 at: https://www.solarquotes.com.au/blog/solarquotes-tv-ep1-mb1872/

            You may also wish to invest in and experience using a portable induction cooktop before committing to refurbishing your kitchen (& splashing lots of cash), like for example the Ikea TILLREDA (404.935.09) single hob unit with 175 mm size cooking zone delivering 2 kW max. output, requiring a 220-240 V, 10 Amp supply. Make sure pots & pans used are compatible – if a magnet sticks to the base it should be suitable.
            https://www.ikea.com/au/en/p/tillreda-portable-induction-hob-1-zone-white-40493509/

      • You’re right James. The Rewiring Aust scheme is about getting off gas, which as a fossil fuel, will always produce emissions when it is burnt, whereas electricity has the potential to be clean. Induction cooktops just happen to be a better experience (more responsive & finer control) than a conduction type cooktop, even if they aren’t a lot more efficient in pure engineering terms.

        Note that the scheme also requires the installation of PV systems, so you don’t have to wait 30yrs for a clean grid. If the PV system is sized to generate more electricity than the house uses, then the electricity drawn from the grid (at night or in poor weather) is offset by the surplus generated during good days. At least in net terms all your electricity use can be zero emissions today.

  3. I’m with Dr Love on this. These northern suburbs are now very wealthy. I think you should be able to get ‘buy in’ in wealthy suburbs without subsidy. What this program is doing is reducing the long term costs of the already weaithy by giving them the subsidy, whereas the lower income suburbs are being left behind. Surely the importance of a subsidy it to get people who would otherwise not have access to something, the opportunity to do it.

    I come from a background of working with people who often have to go without meals to afford to stay warm. A program like this would mean a huge difference to these families. I like the program, but really wish it was targeted at a different community.

  4. It sounds like an interesting demonstration and if my experience of trying to build a fully electric home on a typical single phase power connection is representative then good luck. We are only a pretty typical new build in terms of floor space but but we head butted the max current capacity of our home connection. We could just about make it work with an induction cooktop, HPHWS and ducted aircon and stretching the electricity wiring standards to the max but we would absolutely not be able to install the inevitable EV charger in the future. We unhappily made a decision at the last minute to switch to a gas cooktop to make it work. I’m sure it would have been perfectly safe but without 3 phase power there will be a lot of homes that will probably not comply with the wiring standards as they are currently written

    • Guy Redden says

      Good point. The limits of single phase power are another reason for considering further energy efficiency measures as part of these electrify packages. We also decided not to install an induction cooktop. Instead we bought an Ikea portable induction cooktop (top rated in Choice) – in reality that one hob now does around 70% of our stove top cooking.

      • Energy efficiency is probably a factor but its limited. in our case we were starting with a clean slate and our design was a custom build with energy efficiency one of the key design configurations – pragmatic but certainly much more efficient than the typical Australian project home. The wiring standards dont paricularly care how efficient your home is or whether you have solar attached they just care about the rating of all the loads on the circuit. The stove and induction cooktop we wanted to use had a rating of 60amps on a 80 amp single phase connection! No-one is ever going to draw that much at once but the standard still dictate how it should be calculated and if you have a sparky that treats the standard seriously (and I’d rather have one of those) then a single phase power connection is probably not going to cut it. It seems to we will need to have smarter solutions either in terms of more generous standards or wiring protection or something else if we are going to encourage 100% electric homes under the current usage scenarios let alone as we progressively add another high current load to domestic wiring that was never intended to support it.

        • Guy Redden says

          Yeah, I get it now. The codes are based on how much energy could theoretically be drawn at once, so this is less about actual usage than compliance. Certainly looks like an important issue to work though if we are going to electrify everything.

  5. Guy Redden says

    Good on you and good luck. There’ll always be people pointing out the things that could be done differently, or the other stuff that could be addressed. You can see for example my pet theme is energy efficiency – to reduce emissions, but also to make the energy transition easier by moderating demand while new infrastructure is built. I acknowledge it could water down the main point of the ‘electrify’ campaign to mix it up with efficiency agendas, building standards and the rest. That said, I can see cases where in practice efficiency measures might mean the difference between some electrified households running on their own solar or depending on the grid – and that might also affect the economics of electrification too.

  6. Guy Redden says

    Thanks for the links about induction cooktops Geoff. I will read with interest. I have an Ikea TILLREDA and it’s enough for me for now. It does the majority of our stovetop cooking.

  7. Dave Ridell says

    My comment was not accepted. Could this be censorship?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hi. It’s a public holiday. so I only just got around to checking the comments. But now I’ve seen your previous comment, I’m definitely going to censor it by not approving it. It’s not on topic and I don’t know the answer to the question you asked. I’m happy to answer questions on solar, batteries, and energy efficiency if I can.

  8. norman mcgeoch says

    Simply from an economic point of view, it would be cheaper to be completely off the grid. I have 6kW of solar on the roof and 33kWh of battery storage and an 8kW inverter. This has been running semi-off grid for the last 9 months. The semi part is because I still have a connection to the grid and the system decided to connect to it a few times in that time, mainly due to settings choices I made.
    The main issue that has frustrated me, is the integration of equipment. This can be tricky. And searches frequently lead to open-source programming on Git-Hub. Git-Hub is not for the faint-hearted. Equipment-specific integration leads to dependency on that manufacturer. In my opinion that’s a dangerous path to go down for a full suburb integration. You would find it difficult or impossible to change to something better from another manufacturer.
    The equipment cost so far for the batteries and inverter has been Au$15k The solar panels were already on the roof and had paid for themselves after 5 years. Payback for the battery/inverter integration is expected to be 5 years and life expectancy for the batteries is expected to be 20 years+ at the 20% discharge depth/day.
    My top advice would be to get a system that can integrate batteries into it, not power walls unless you have no option. Powerwalls have inverters integrated into them. A good solar inverter should already have a charger and inverter, so there is no point in repeating that equipment duplication in every battery storage solution you buy. That just increases the installation costs as you go for more storage.
    Moving in the direction of electrify everything is the way to go. It won’t be perfect at the start, but that shouldn’t stop us from starting.

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