OUR SOLAR STORY SO FAR

This project has been four years in the making! In 2017 when long-term member and artist, Gabi Dick, took over as President, she decided that the obtaining of solar panels and air-conditioning for Wallace House would be her focus during her 3 year-term.

Four years later, after numerous grant applications expertly applied for by Honorary member Kay Bodman, to a great number of entities, a grant was finally bestowed by the Gambling Fund – $35,000! This was an event for great celebration as it had begun to seem like the impossible dream, but Gabi and Kay succeeded.

The installation quotes had to be re-established as some had expired and we eventually secured the services of local company – Home & Energy (Council preferred). 

Prior to this, Noosa Council gave us a grant of $10,000 of which over half was used to install roof insulation and two solar generated roof vents which alone reduced the temperature in the House by 2 – 5 degrees. We then had to engage a structural engineer, EBIS, at a cost to us of $1500 to check the roof was structurally sound enough to support the panels. EBIS engineers were efficient and timely. After this report and another by a roofing expert, Bones Roofing, came through, Noosa Council agreed to replace a few faulty roof panels and over 4000 screws to comply with building standards. 

Approval by Noosa Council arrived just in time for Home & Energy to start the scheduled solar installation on November 30. They did an expert job in installing the many solar panels with very little disruption to daily life in Wallace House. 

As you can see by the photos, the panels cover much  of the roof surfaces in order to catch the sun throughout the day. Heritage limitations prevented the optimum installation using the northern aspect of the roof and also was limited by the shade of surrounding trees. Unfortunately, we will not be able to generate enough electricity to fully cover the kilns but it will reduce our electricity bills. The connection to the grid will happen in the next week or so.

We hoped that the grant monies would also enable us to install air-conditioning but the old quotes are no longer valid and Noosa Council has requested that we explore the possibility of installing a ducted cooling system rather than seven individual reverse-cycle units throughout premises. This will delay the installation significantly as this may well be beyond our budget at this time. We have $25,000 to spend but the ducted air conditioning will cost in the region of $39,000 if it is even possible to install it. We are in the process of obtaining more quotes and weighing up our options. Noosa Council is aware of our plight and we are in close communication with them.

However, for now we are delighted with the first step towards reducing our carbon footprint. Climate change is a fact and we urgently need to cater for our hot summers and make sure the inside environment is a constant, workable temperature for the safety, health and well-being of our over 350 members. Several of our members suffer health conditions which prevent them from attending the House from December to March as they are unable to tolerate the intense heat especially in the Wattle Gallery. 

So not quite achieving Gabi’s dream as yet but we are getting there!