Frequently Asked Questions

What are we doing?

Providence Asset Group together with Manilla Community Renewable Energy Inc. have come together to build a 4.95 Megawatt (MW) solar farm for the Manilla community, resulting in locally reduced energy costs, and local investment in energy infrastructure, new industries and jobs.

Who owns Providence Asset Group?

Providence is an Australian owned and based investment fund with a registered Australian Financial Service License (AFSL No 223344).

Our investors are a range of sophisticated investors who support impact investment.  As an ESG (Environmental Social and Governance ) dedicated investment fund, we comply with the stringent requirements of ASIC and have a serious commitment to social and environmental wellbeing.

Who is Manilla Solar?

Manilla Solar is the project jointly developed between Manilla Community Renewable Energy Inc. and Providence Asset Group.

Our vision is to realise the potential of renewable energy to improve the wellbeing of communities and the environment today – and for future generations – and we believe there’s no better illustration of that than the solar farm model we are rolling out at Manilla, which will form the basis of future projects in other areas of rural and regional Australia.

Can I invest in the Manilla Solar project?

Yes, the Manilla Solar Project will be looking for local community investment. The minimum investment for an individual will be $1000. It is anticipated that individuals who invest could earn a better return on their investment than bank interest.

How big will this solar farm be?

This solar farm is a 4.95 MW project and will cover approximately 15 hectares of land just outside of town. The development area is not expected to be expanded over the lifetime of the project.

What is the lifespan of the solar farm?

Solar farms operate quietly over a period of 25-35 years. The farms will be regularly maintained by operations and maintenance contractors to ensure efficiency and longevity.

Will this development employ local people?

Yes, it’s our intention to use local contractors where possible and we encourage those to register their interest in the tender process to be advised at a later stage. Interested persons can do that here: in the ‘Stay Informed’ section.

When will construction on the project begin?

Pending development application (DA) approval by Council, we plan to begin construction around October 2020.

How long will the construction take?

For a project of this size, construction will take approximately 6 months.

Will there be community consultation?

We have already written letters to surrounding neighbours relating to the proposed DA submission. We have spoken to some of these neighbours face to face and will continue to engage with the community as the project progresses.

Why solar? Why is solar better than other renewable sources?

Solar technology is a mature and proven clean technology. Solar pricing has reduced drastically over the last 5 years and is now one of the cheapest forms of power generation.

When coupled with storage, solar is considered one of the cost-effective and efficient means of harnessing the potential of the sun, balancing intermittent supply and demand, and ultimately supporting a reliable and sustainable renewable energy system.

Where does the electricity go?  Can the solar farm be used to offset my electricity cost?

The solar farm produces clean electricity which is sold to the National Electricity Market.  If there is enough local interest, a bulk sale arrangement can be offered to customers in the local community at a more affordable level.

Who does the installation and up-keep of the solar modules and what happens if things break?

The project will use top tier solar panels with 10-year product warranty and a 25-year performance warranty. Installation, operation and maintenance will be completed by accredited contractors with local employment opportunities.

Will the solar farms have batteries?

Absolutely. Providence is at the forefront of ongoing development and evolution of hydrogen storage technology. Providence aims to install cutting edge storage solutions after the solar farm becomes operational. At its heart it, solar and storage is an affordable renewable energy source with the potential to help diversify rural and regional economies and inspire job growth – both directly during the development and construction phase of the project, and then through the establishment of new businesses encouraged to the region by the benefits of increased electricity grid stability and energy resource options.

Do we still have to access to energy from the grid?

The solar farm will supply the community during daylight hours. The coupled storage solution will enable the project to provide energy to the community well into the night, however grid energy will still be required to supply the community for some periods.

Does the energy storage kick in when energy use spikes, like on a very hot day?

The battery will discharge when power prices are high coinciding with peak demand such as evening and hot or cold days.

What is the energy storage system comprised of?

The energy storage system is a hybrid combination of lithium ion batteries and a world first hydrogen storage medium.

How does the hydrogen battery work? 

Water molecules are split into their hydrogen and oxygen components using an electrolyser. The oxygen is typically vented into the air while the hydrogen is absorbed into a metal hydride which effectively acts as a “hydrogen sponge”. Changes in pressure allows the hydrogen to be released and recombined with oxygen inside a fuel cell creating water and electricity.

Is the hydrogen bettery likely to be superior to a standard lithium battery?

Hydrogen is complimentary technology to lithium ion – hydrogen provides long term energy storage while lithium ion provides short power and grid support benefits.

How much water does it use? And where does the water come from?

Roughly 9L of water is needed for 1L of Hydrogen.  Our system will produce around 400kg of hydrogen a day, requiring roughly 3.6kL per day.  However most of this is recaptured as water when we convert it back to electricity.  The water will be transported into the site via a bulk supply and stored on site in a tank.

How big is the storage system? And how many hours of electricity can it store? 

The hydrogen energy storage system consists of two half height 20 ft shipping containers – enough to deliver 2 MW of power for roughly 6-7 hours. 

The battery energy storage system consists of four 40 ft shipping containers – enough to store around an hour of energy.

How long does the energy storage system last and what happens when it is all used up?

The energy storage system will last for 20+ years and is 100% recyclable.

Does is make any noise or waste?

The solar farm and future energy storage system will t be audible outside of the site boundary

Is the hydrogen technology safe? What happens if there is a lightning strike or a bush fire?

The unique storage system operates at ambient temperatures and pressures and is incapable of an explosive energy release. Significant engineering and tests will be done to ensure the safety of the overall system.