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Mike Cannon-Brookes, 5B Solar and Tesla launch energy collective to buttress burnt-out towns

A new venture set up to provide energy generation in towns affected by recent bushfires is preparing to install stand-alone solar-and-battery systems at up to 100 sites around Australia.

The Resilient Energy Collective, funded by the family office of Mike and Annie Cannon-Brookes, is operating in collaboration with concertina-ground-mounted-solar company 5B and battery-maker Tesla.

Some households, small businesses and critical services remain without grid power in the wake of the bushfire emergency and more recent storm and flood activity.

Hundreds of locations are running diesel generators, while others are rebuilding from scratch and will need new, resilient off-grid energy solutions. The initiative aims to have off-grid energy solutions in place 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,” says Resilient Energy Collective co-founder and Atlassian co-founder and CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes.

“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.”

The Resilient Energy Collective is already working with network service providers including Essential Energy, Endeavour Energy, AusNet and SA Power Networks and energy providers to target the most urgent sites across NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

The initiative is already operating infrastructure at two locations.

Near Cobargo, in south-east NSW, a solar and battery stand-alone system has helped to reconnect electricity to a vital emergency communications tower at Peak Alone. In concert with Essential Energy, this unit supplies a police radio tower and an RFS, National Parks and Eurobodalla Shire radio tower.

It was installed and operational in less than two days. Prior to this, firefighters had been using diesel generators.

In collaboration with AusNet, another system has been installed to power the Goongerah Community Hall in East Gippsland, Victoria. The hall was out of action but will now be used by local residents for relief services, internet connection, refrigeration and community meetings.

Resilient Energy Collective is working with energy providers in three states to identify further sites in need.

“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,” Cannon-Brookes says.

“This is a perfect solution to a massive problem. It will restore power faster. It’s renewable, reliable and clean.”

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