OFF GRID: This house could change power bills forever
A GYMPIE region "prototype" house specifically designed to use power "totally off the grid" could offer a glimpse into the low-cost future of energy usage around the world, according to the minds behind it.
Renewable Energy Engineers, a self-described "consortium of business people and engineers" headed by director Brian Romer in partnership with figureheads like chief engineer Colin Rohde, teamed with newly local builder Dale Zimmerman "around a year ago" to develop their first local project at a Curra property.
Mr Romer said the prototype, expected to be complete by Christmas, will utilise renewable generation methods - such as solar microinverters to better compensate for shading around the house - tailored specifically to suit the location and design of the house.
"Dale spoke with us about this project and we've come in here to solve the energy sources," he said.
"We've looked at this property set way down below the driveway, and thought about how we could make it environmentally friendly and sustainable, because to connect the power poles from the street is about $70,000.
"We're doing an entirely renewable energy system off grid that runs 24 hours a day without batteries thanks to Colin's design. We're not just using one specific type of energy source, we look at a project under specific circumstances and conditions and decide what we're going to do."
Mr Rohde said the Curra property, which will also feature batteries used "as capacitors more so than energy storage", was the result of "smart engineering".
"We look at what resources are available for a particular project and maximise the use of those, which reduces the cost not only to the project but the whole community and environment," Mr Rohde said. "What we're doing is scaling down some of the strategies used in big projects to the best advantage for a particular building.
"It's an optimised use of resources, doing something different for each and every site with the interest of those projects in mind. We look at each and every project in its own right and say what can we do?"
Mr Zimmerman recently moved his Brisbane-based 3PS Carpentry business to the region for the "country lifestyle", and said the project was something he had "been thinking about for the last 20 to 25 years".
Property owner Liz Grant said she was "excited" to be living in a "truly unique" house.
"I'm very proud of this house. I've got privacy, and I'm excited. For years I've paid ridiculous bills, I'm looking forward to the huge savings," Ms Grant said.
Mr Romer said REE was looking for future projects around the Gympie region in addition to "designing and developing renewable energy projects throughout Australia and Asia".
He said the off-grid structure would mean homes could be built anywhere on a block of land without cost-related concerns of running power lines to a residence, with less cost also for "council and innovators providing infrastructure".
"Everything we've spoken about works, but nobody's ever thought of putting it all together," he said. "The trick has been putting it all together, it's a problem solve. We want to pick the optimum plan for each individual project we do."
Visit 3PS Carpentry online at www.3pscarpentry.com.au