Resilient Buildings and Distributed Energy: A Grassroots Community Response to the Climate Emergency
1.1. The Global Context
1.2. The Australian Context
1.3. Case Study Background
1.4. Research Objective and Research Questions
- Which countries or regions should Gippsland/the Latrobe Valley be comparing itself to, what can the region learn about disaster management and Emergency DES solutions?
- What energy services are supplied by these international examples (e.g., lights and appliances, refrigeration, hot water, heating, cooling, etc.)?
- What type/size of distributed energy resources (DER)/technologies have been integrated (e.g., solar PV, batteries of various chemistries, diesel generators, geothermal, small wind, electric vehicles, etc.)?
- What are the legal and regulatory challenges (e.g., who is responsible, how have they been managed elsewhere, etc.)?
- What other enablers are involved (e.g., supportive policy frameworks, close collaboration with local industries, local identity, etc.)?
2.1. Overview of the Research Design and Data Analysis
- The understanding of the Emergency DES concept developed by the community group Voices of the Valley in Victoria, Australia (empirical research);
- An assessment of domestic DES uptake in Australia, includes all states and territories (desktop research);
- An international market scan (broad overview of potential case study examples);
- The development of four international case studies demonstrating DES uptake in response to climate disasters. These case studies inform the proposed Emergency DES application in East Gippsland, Australia.
2.2. Methods Used to Assess the Case for Emergency DES in Australia
2.3. Methods Used to Select and Analyse International Examples of Emergency DES Applications
- A track record for innovation and technology development;
- Been impacted by extreme weather, environmental disasters, or similar over the last 20 years;
- Relevant distributed energy-related examples.
- Historical background;
- Technology/business model approach, i.e., deployment of the DES;
- High-level discussion of the target markets (beneficiaries from the technology uptake);
- Enablers, including specific policy measures and the extent to which Emergency DES other/distributed renewable energy resources contribute to the ‘identity’ of each region;
- Legal and regulatory issues;
- Stakeholders involved (where possible facilitating new network connections).
3.1. Findings from the Literature Review
3.2. Findings from the Stakeholder Workshop
3.2.1. A Core Finding Was That Actor Diversity Is Key for Building Energy Resilience
3.2.2. Another Important Finding Was That Community Needs Must Inform the Vision of the Emergency Distributed Energy System Concept for Gippsland
3.3. Findings from the Semi-Structured Stakeholder Interviews
3.4. Findings from the PESTEL Analysis
3.4.1. Political Opportunities and Challenges
3.4.2. Economic Opportunities and Challenges
3.4.3. Social Opportunities and Challenges
3.4.4. Technical Opportunities and Challenges
3.4.5. Environmental Challenges and Opportunities
3.4.6. Legal Considerations
3.4.7. Who Should Invest in, Own, and Operate the Emergency DES?
3.4.8. What Electricity Industry Law and Regulation Applies?
3.5. Findings from the Case Study Comparison
3.5.1. Who Should the Latrobe Valley/Gippsland Be Comparing Itself to Regarding Emergency DES Responses?
3.5.2. Microgrid Adoption in California—Case Study Findings
3.5.3. Aegean Islands/Greece—Case Study Findings
3.5.4. Ganjam, India—Case Study Findings
3.5.5. Christchurch/South Island New Zealand—Case Study Findings
- Different suites of technologies are available, and Emergency DES can gradually be upgraded or modified to meet and adjust to community needs;
- The size of the disaster-affected community and the scale of damage determines the technical response (microgrids might not be the quickest and most suitable solution at the time of recovery);
- Multi-level governance-style leadership assists the energy transition (administratively, financially, legally), and building climate resilience;
- Community engagement and consultancy processes are key to ensuring social acceptance and persistence of a microgrid (i.e., the organisation of maintenance and operation, community needs/various levels of income).
Limitations of the Study Design
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
|Country/Region||GII||Risk Level||Types of Hazard/Climate Extremes||Energy Relibability/Past Grid Impacts||DES Specialisation Drivers||Rationale|
|United States||3||High||Climatological (hurricane, wildfire) |
|In 2018, wildfire in California caused widespread outages. In 2012, Hurricanes Sandy and in 2005 Katrina led to major power outages.||DES: Leading microgrid market (especially ‘Sandy States’), West coast looking to follow in wake of wildfires. |
Visitor economy: examples of eco-tourism
|For: commonality with wildfires, existing cooperation on disaster management, similar smart specialisation drivers to Latrobe Valley. |
Against: challenge to pick a single example from the US
Suggestion: North America with focus on California and its DES response to the wildfire.
|Europe||High||Low-Medium||Climatological (Portugal, Greece wildfire) |
|Pan-European floods (central/south Europe), southern European wildfire (Portugal, Greece, Spain, Italy); Earthquake (Italy, Greece)||DES: Examples of microgrids, although energy resilience is less of a driver (increased carbon reduction). Europe experienced major power outages. Italy had issues with battery telecoms back up during earthquake—needed longer duration. |
Other drivers: Vary among regions
|For: high on innovation scale, leader in DES, varying type and propensity for disasters. |
Against: challenge to pick a single European example. Suggestion: Choice between Portugal (forest fires) or Greece (sustainable resilient islands). Additional research still being undertaken to narrow focus.
|New Zealand||25 out of ?||Low-Med.||Geophysical||2011 Christchurch earthquake caused major destruction and led to long power outages.||DES: applied a ‘smart city’ approach for its rebuild; NZ becomes innovation & tech hub |
Visitor economy: used “containerised” shop units as tourist attractions, aim to improve liveability of city. Geothermal element in DES energy mix.
|For: proximity to Australia, existing cooperation on disaster management, similar smart specialisation drivers to the Latrobe Valley. |
Against: Geophysical hazard different to wildfires.
Suggestion: New Zealand is included; similar drivers and likelihood of building cooperation and links quickly.
|India||52||High||Climatological (cyclone). Geophysical |
|2014 Cyclone affected the of Odisha leading to power outages.||DES: Project received funds from the Asian Development Bank; holistic approach |
Drivers: Internet of Things/IT-enabled DES, local RE resources, citizen-led)
|For: investing in DES/IoT, high variety of and propensity for disasters, large potential market. |
Against: lower on innovation scale, high population density throughout despite large rural areas—quite different from regional Australian example.
|Japan (Tohoku region)||16||Med.-High||Geophysical (earthquake/tsunami). |
Climatological (typhoons) Hydrological
|2011 earthquake/tsunami led to outages. Typhoons pose a more frequent threat. Grid is highly reliable otherwise||DES: High degree of innovation, microgrid examples show resilience to power outages during earthquakes/storms |
Visitor economy/geothermal: Onsen (spa) towns could provide insights for Latrobe Valley
|For: innovative, industrially focussed economy with expertise in Emergency DES technology, examples of successful resilient systems. |
Against: could be some similarities with New Zealand and their response to their last major earthquake.
|2004 Aceh tsunami saw distribution networks damaged for several months. Storms, floods, earthquakes lead to frequent power outages.||DES: lack of relevant examples from market scan, low rates of electrification. However, possible future drivers for this but faces challenges—frequent power outages, low access to electricity (in rural, less densely populated areas), underdeveloped distribution network, lack of inward investment in energy.||For: remote, low density population in parts. |
Against: lack of examples of Emergency DES activities compared with other shortlisted countries. This could be a useful future market but looks to be a lower priority market to undertake deeper dive research at this stage.
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|Natural Hazard Categories||Natural Hazard Examples|
|Climatology||Hurricane, Typhoon, Cyclones|
|Technology or human-made||Environmental degradation|
|State/Territory||Climate Impacts||Existing DES Projects||Potential for Stand-Alone Power Systems (SAPS)|
|Tasmania||2018/19 wildfires ||King Island (2010–2016) and Flinders Islands (2014–2021) have been pioneering in DES uptake [52,53].||TasNetworks has identified 5 possible SAPS sites over the next 5 to 10 years .|
|Western Australia (WA)||Over 90% of WA is wildfire-prone ||A microgrid is also trialled in Kalbarri, a major tourist site ||Western Power, a state-owned energy company, has identified 15,000 potential DES sites until 2030 |
|South Australia (SA)||2019/20 Black Summer fires, Kangaroo Island was severely impacted ||2017: The SA government installed a utility-scale Tesla battery storage system, the largest installation worldwide at the time. The battery capacity (129 MWh) is currently undergoing a 50% expansion  2016: 100% RE proposal for Kangaroo Island was unsuccessful due to lack of support to remove the undersea network cable [59,60]||Two potential SAPS sites have been identified by the South Australian Power Network |
|Queensland||2019/20 Black Summer fires, and is at risk of extreme weather events||2019: University of Queensland installed a Tesla battery system and showcases its economic and environmental benefits ||1000–2000 potential sites have been identified for SAPS over the next 10 to 20 years |
|Regional New South Wales||2019/20 Black Summer fires||In the Essential Energy network there is potential for 2000 SAPS over the next decade . The network covers 95% of NSW customers and parts of Southern Queensland |
|Victoria||2019/20 Black Summer fires||Yackandandah (TRY)  and Licola Wilderness Village (located 50 km off the grid and 254 km east of Melbourne) has installed 600 solar panels and 2 large batteries ||The regulator identified 300–400 SAPS sites operated by AusNet Services , focused on Regional Victoria including East Gippsland|
|Facility Level||Intended Function||Operational Resources||Amenities||Equipment Requirements||Suitability for Emergency DES Concept|
|Municipal Self-sufficient/24-h activation (i.e., set up) time||Least suitable|
12-h activation time
|Local 6-h activation |
|Not specified||Meeting facilities||Less suitable|
|Case Study Location||Proneness to Environmental Disasters||Evidence of Emergency DES||Specialisation Strategies (Community Energy, |
Sustainable Development, Bioenergy, Geothermal)
|Aegean Islands, Greece||X||X|
|Region||Type/Size of DES Technologies||Additional Enablers||Barriers, Including Legal and Regulatory Challenges||Lessons to Be Learned|
|California, Sonoma county (Stone Edge Winery only)|
|Ganjam district, State of Odisha/India (Maligaon Project only)|
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Niklas, S.; Alexander, D.; Dwyer, S. Resilient Buildings and Distributed Energy: A Grassroots Community Response to the Climate Emergency. Sustainability 2022, 14, 3186. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14063186
Niklas S, Alexander D, Dwyer S. Resilient Buildings and Distributed Energy: A Grassroots Community Response to the Climate Emergency. Sustainability. 2022; 14(6):3186. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14063186Chicago/Turabian Style
Niklas, Sarah, Dani Alexander, and Scott Dwyer. 2022. "Resilient Buildings and Distributed Energy: A Grassroots Community Response to the Climate Emergency" Sustainability 14, no. 6: 3186. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14063186