Manilla will boast the first hydrogen battery in NSW, with the cutting-edge technology to juice up a community-owned solar farm recently announced in the small town.
The 15,000 panel project, announced last last year, will help drive down power prices for around 2000 energy users.
But in a NSW first the scheme will build a hybrid solar-hydrogen battery care of a $3.5 million state government grant, it was announced yesterday.
It's the end of a 7 year campaign to develop the now $16 million project for president of Manilla Community Renewable Energy Inc Emma Stilts.
"It's absolutely amazing. We feel like we've won the lottery. We've been talking about this for so long and now not only are we doing the solar farm, we get this added benefit of the battery," she said
The hybrid battery, to be installed alongside a traditional lithium ion battery system, will give the community-owned project six hours of overnight storage.
That means they can continue to sell cheap energy at peak use times and when solar panels can't generate energy.
"Solar power's the cheapest power you can generate so we're going to pass on those benefits to our energy users," said Ms Stilts.
Manilla won't be the last small community to develop its own power plant, she said.
The idea simply makes hard-nosed economic sense even for Nationals voters not as concerned about climate change as a "greeny" like Ms Stilts.
"These types of technologies are accessible now and regional communities can own them themselves and have agency rather than have an economic leakage of energy."
In the long run the community could even completely decouple from the grid or use hydrogen technology to start exporting power offshore if it wanted to.
In the meantime the scheme would "future proof" the town and keep the profits of energy generation in Manilla, she said.
Construction will start on the project in June, with the first watt of energy to be transmitted in April 2021.
The 4.9MW solar farm will power both the local community and wider energy market.
Manilla Community Renewable Energy, assisted by investment organisation Providence Asset Group, will jointly develop the scheme, the first of 30 to be rolled out across regional Australia.
The battery will be funded through NSW Government's Regional Community Energy Fund.
The solar project will have a stall at the Manilla show this weekend, and Emma Stilts invites community members to pop by for a chat.