Green energy for White Gum Valley development ‘an Australian first’

Both the West Australian ( and the ABC (  ran good pieces on the Kim Beazley development in White Gum Valley (my street in fact!). Great to see this level innovation and collaberation between, Landcorp, City of Freo, CSIRO, CUSP, CODA and the local community. The renewable energy technology described below  in combination with some clever water options from Josh Byrne and Associates will make this a good example of density done well.

kim beazley

Green energy for White Gum Valley development ‘an Australian first’ by Kathryn Diss ABC

A new residential complex south of Perth will feature solar panels and battery storage technology, providing financial benefits for tenants and investors.

Landcorp’s White Gum Valley project will include apartments, townhouses, maisonettes and single home sites, housing more than 150 people on the former Kim Beazley school site.

The WA Government said the use of renewable energy technology would cut energy and water bills by about $1,200 a year for tenants in the complex, which will feature a demonstration housing project managed as a strata development.

Solar PV systems have not been widely used on strata developments, because the cost of the technology traditionally falls on the shoulders of the investors while giving the tenant the benefit of cheap power.

But Curtin University, Landcorp and the CSIRO have partnered to develop a system which benefits both investors and tenants in White Gum Valley.

Curtin University sustainability specialist Jemma Green said under the system, residents would pay their energy bills to the strata body rather than the energy retailer.

“This is an Australian first and I’m only aware of one other project in Italy which has actually done this,” she said.

“The solar panels and the batteries sit on the strata and are owner-managed by the strata manager.

“It provides [investors] with an additional revenue stream, so if an investor buys an apartment and rents it out, the tenant will pay their electricity bill to the strata, which will offset the strata costs and provide a justification for the capital investment.”

Overcoming barriers to solar technology

Ms Green said the new business model overcomes several barriers which have prevented solar technology from taking off on strata developments.

“Barriers include getting approvals from Western Power, designing the system so that it is compliant with strata laws is really important, and also designing a system which is going to charge no more than what [residents] would pay from Synergy,” she said.

What has been designed here is something that should be affordable to the Gen Y marketplace

WA Minister for Lands Terry Redman

Ms Green said the project would be the focus of a four-year study at Curtin University into low carbon living, and is confident it will succeed.

“People are willing to buy apartments that perhaps cost a bit more, but the pay-off is they don’t pay the electricity bill,” Ms Green said.

Landcorp’s chief executive Frank Marra agreed.

“Investors will see that customers and their buyers will really want to be in an estate where their ongoing living costs are going to be lower, so people are going to vote with their feet – they are going to want to buy into these estates,” he said.

‘Winning the public over’ on infill development

The development is exemplary of what the WA Government wants to promote for infill housing.

Minister for Lands Terry Redman said he thought the Government was starting to win the somewhat emotional debate about infill developments.

“What has been designed here is something that should be affordable to the Gen Y marketplace, but of course meets the sustainability standards and the infill densities we want to see in broader developments in Perth,” he said.

“We are certainly dealing with a history of how we think development should happen – trying to shift that is difficult.

“The culture is still for the Greenfield developments in the typical housing-type plots, [and] what we need to have is demonstration sites so people can actually see what it looks like to be a part of these.

“It is unacceptable in Western Australia that we can progress towards 3.5 million people by 2050 and not have a level of high-density infill development.

“We do need to do this right, we need to win the public over and this is one way of doing it.”

Mr Marra said he believed the scheme would become the future norm, as other developers saw the commercial benefits.

“As Perth grows there is going to be a greater share of housing that needs to be provided through infill development,” Mr Marra said.

Two of the White Gum Valley sites for apartment development are scheduled for release in August.

Artist impression of Landcorp's White Gum Valley development.

Artist impression of Landcorp’s White Gum Valley development.


About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor

7 Responses to Green energy for White Gum Valley development ‘an Australian first’

  1. Lionel says:

    Looks nice but the first render shows very few cars. Is there underground parking here?

    The strata solar is a good idea and should be mandatory in any new developments – it is a no brainer in WA.

  2. Noah McDonald says:

    A brilliant initiative. hopefully this is just the start of a wave of similar developments. Well done all involved.

  3. freoishome says:

    What does ‘affordable to the Gen Y marketplace’ mean? More expensive than conventional housing, affordable housing? I assume such developments will require (is 20% the norm?) to be affordable?

  4. Diana Ryan says:

    Brad, I don’t understand the savings to the person in the unit at the strata complex – the renters, as opposed to those who own their unit and will therefore benefit through the strata arrangement.

    Can you check my understanding below, please?

    The stata “owns” the solar panels and the battery backup. Presumably it will also manage this infrastructure and the billing to the residents.

    The strata generates energy from solar panels, presumably stores it in batteries of some significant size, for evening usage.

    Presumably the strata system is able to monitor who’s at home and using solar coming straight off the panels and in to their homes during the day (ie, how much), and then the tenant/owner occupier can also draw from the batteries and will switch to grid draw down when needed.

    The strata then bills the cost of the electricity (presumably as generated both from the panels and that which was needed from the grid for each household). The persons living in the units then pay their electricity bill cost to the strata.

    Article seems to be saying the tenant is paying exactly the same amount as they would to Synergy, for both what they accessed from solar panels and obviously drew from the grid, but to the strata, is that right?

    The strata continues paying off the panels/batteries and presumably charges ongoing management of the system costs, from whatever money comes in, but over and above all that, or after that is paid off, the strata generates free electricity, but bills at the Synergy rate to the tenant/owner occupier, and, technically anyway, the difference between what it cost the strata to generate/manage and how much they charge the tenants etc is then used to lower the strata fee costs billed to the investors/owner occupiers?

    Not sure if I did get that right… can’t see how this will save the person renting (owners would be part of the strata benefit) any money in electricity costs? I must have missed something?

    If I’ve got it wrong, and the person renting the property directly makes savings from this system, could you tell me how? Or is the assumption that if the investor is saving money, they will not lift rents as much? Its not clear above that the person renting will get free electricity as long as it comes from the solar panels, or if that “free” electricity isn’t built in to a higher rent from the start (the age old dilemma).


  5. Reblogged this on Barracuda Studio Gallery & Design store and commented:
    Great idea

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