Atlassian billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes and his wife Annie are spending $12.5 million on a new venture to spearhead the super-fast roll-out of off-grid solar and battery combinations to help speed the recovery in bushfire affected communities.
Called the Resilient Energy Collective, the venture brings together Sydney-based solar technology developer 5B together with Tesla (batteries) and aims to rapidly install solar-battery infrastructure at up to 100 sites in the next 100 days.
The venture aims to enable critical electricity services to resume in communities affected by the recent disasters, allowing homes and businesses to operate off-grid. The initiative is being funded via the family office of Mr Cannon-Brookes and his wife Annie Cannon-Brookes.
Resilient Energy Collective has been working with network service providers – including Essential Energy, Endeavour Energy, AusNet and SA Power Networks – to target the most urgent sites across NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
Hundreds of locations in disaster affected areas have been running diesel generators, which are a time and cost burden and require constant re-fuelling. Others are rebuilding from scratch and will need new, resilient off-grid energy solutions.
Mr Cannnon-Brookes said the initiative would let households and communities to move off generator power and set up more resilient solar/battery solutions, well before poles and wires can be reconnected.
“In three weeks we’ve come together, found the technology, adapted it, put it on trucks and right now it’s operating, generating electricity,” Mr Cannon-Brookes said.
“That’s what this collective is all about; getting the best tech and the best ingenuity together to solve a massive problem, in days, not months or years,” he said. “Solar and batteries are resilient. They are an awesome off-grid solution that are quick and easy to transport and deploy.
“We’ve already rolled out in two locations, and we are ready to do more. We have the capacity to roll out up to 100 sites – and we can fund and deploy them in the next 100 days if required.”
The Resilient initiative has so far installed operational infrastructure at two locations. The first, near Cobargo in NSW is a stand-alone solar/battery system that now power an emergency communications tower at Peak Alone. The unit was up and running in two days installed in conjunction with Essential Energy and replaced diesel generators that had to constantly refuelled.
The second site was installed in collaboration with AusNet to power Goongerah Community Hall in East Gippsland in Victoria. The hall had been out of action would now be used for relief services, internet connection ,refrigeration, and community meetings.
“As a nation we’ve got to learn the lessons of this summer and invest in energy systems that help the planet, not hurt it. That are resilient, not brittle. That are fast and flexible, not slow and fixed. And most importantly that reduce bills,” Mr Cannon-Brookes said.
“In the future, we see a world in which many remote communities operate on solar power, off-the-grid. It will be more stable, more resilient, and less prone to damage.
“To get this done, we need the cooperation of the energy providers. We want to work with them to identify the areas most in need,” he said.