Parramatta, Australia [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] Australian property developer Landcom and BP Solar have joined forces on a new project aimed to enhance the use of solar power in residential developments. The companies plan to create a 16 home community at Second Ponds Creek in Blacktown that will have 16 kW of solar power generation capacity.“This is an exciting project which has Landcom and BP Solar combining their expertise to promote wider use of solar energy in residential developments,” Armineh Mardirossian, the Director of Sustainability and Policy at Landcom, said. The AUD 184,000 (US $142,000) initiative has the backing of the Australian Greenhouse Office, which has provided a AUD 77,000 (US $59,300) grant towards implementing the scheme under the Photovoltaic Rebate Program. Mark Twidell, who is the regional director of BP Solar, said the Second Ponds Creek development offered a valuable opportunity to demonstrate the Australian Government’s Solar Cities concept on a small scale. It will also assist Landcom and BP Solar to formulate their approach to the Solar Cities program. Solar Cities is a AUD 75 million (US $57.8 million) program organized by the Australian Greenhouse Office. Funds for the program are used to support solar energy installations for households and businesses, and to encourage people to build in greater energy efficiency. The program will also work with State and local governments to address energy market arrangements that currently do not reward local generation of energy needs, and planning rules which can limit the uptake of solar energy. Mardirossian said the Second Ponds Creek project was born out of Landcom and BP Solar’s desire to create more sustainable communities through partnerships. Each property on the Second Ponds Creek site will have a solar array that is positioned specifically to catch the maximum amount of sunlight. BP will monitor the systems to evaluate the benefit to the local electric grid during peak electricity demand. Residents will also get smart meters installed at their homes, which are meant to show how much electricity is being used at any one time so people can see where they need to conserve electricity. “Research shows that in Sydney’s west, peak demand for energy is around 1,000 MW higher than the normal summer peak of 2,500 MW,” Mardirossian said. “We are striving to find new ways to manage this peak electricity usage without the cost of a major upgrade of electricity infrastructure.” The solar systems have an expected lifetime in excess of 20 years. BP Solar will manage maintenance services to the home, at no cost to the homeowner for an initial four-year period. Construction is expected to start on the new homes in December 2005 and be completed during 2006.