Australian Coal Mine Museum Will Run On Renewable Energy

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May. 26 2019, Updated 2:19 p.m. ET

An old coal mine in Australia that’s turned into a museum will soon be fueled by renewable energy. The Victoria state government will fund the installations of solar panels and battery storage on the landmark. Not only will it be cheaper to keep the lights on at the museum, but it could be a huge staple in the transition to sustainability in the area. 

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The Energy Innovation Co-op received a grant of $241,840 from Victoria’s state government. It’ll be spread over three years to help them implement their “Old Energy-New Energy” project at State Coal Mine Wonhaggi. The mine museum is located at Bass Coast Shire in Southeastern Victoria. The Co-op applied through the state government’s New Energy Jobs Fund that has now backed over 20 renewable projects.

At least 86 kilowatts of solar panels will be installed on the ground with 25 kilowatt-hours of battery storage. According to the Co-op’s press release, this power will be able “to help pump up to 100,000 liters of water a day from the Mine as well as for the Visitor Centre and other community facilities on the site.”

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Pamela Rothfield, the Bass Coast Shire Mayor, gave her full support on the site moving toward renewable energy and is looking forward to the outcome: “The project is innovative and educational, and demonstrates how we can showcase our history with today’s technology. We are fortunate to have an enthusiastic and capable community group with a strong environmental focus making a positive difference to the community in which we all live.”

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The Co-op’s chair, Moragh Mackay, was pleased with the process and noted the reduction in the museum’s emissions: “Locals and visitors alike will be able to see in it action, reducing carbon emissions by more than 150,000kg annually. Getting battery technology up and running locally is especially of interest to many people. This is very exciting news.”

This project will also help fuel renewable energy throughout the community. All money earned from selling solar power back into the grid will be added to the Co-op’s Southern Community-Owned Renewable Energy (CORE) fund. This fund will help community facilities upgrade to solar power that otherwise wouldn't have the money to purchase solar panels up-front.

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“Old Energy-New Energy” won’t be limited to just the State Coal Mine museum. The Co-op will be partnering with Parks Victoria, who oversees all the landmarks in the community and is looking to add renewable energy at other camping sites and parks.

Victoria’s State Coal Mine was in operation from 1910 until 1968. The museum offers a unique perspective into how life was like when mining in the early 1900’s. Underground tunnel tours resumed in 2012 after a $3 million upgrade to meet safety standards. It's currently the only historic coal mine attraction in the Southern Hemisphere.

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