Community-Centric Energy Projects Power Australia

Cities and towns across Australia are moving ahead with community energy projects utilizing a range of technologies including wind, solar, bioenergy and mini-hydro.

Clean Energy 4 Goulburn in New South Wales has plans to build a community-funded 1.2-megawatt solar farm, with 4000 panels and the capacity to power between 350 and 500 houses in the region. They expect to raise $2 million AUS to finance the project, half of which they hope will come from the local community. Plans are to provide 50 percent of its energy output to one major end user and sell the other 50 percent to the community.

“In a perfect world the farm will be built by the community, owned by the community, and supplying power to the community and the profits stay within the community,” said group president Ed Suttle.

SolarShare in Canberra, ACT is set up to operate multiple solar generation assets on both greenfield and rooftop sites in order to diversify energy sales and reduce the risk to investors.

It expects to have between 400 and 600 community members participate and that the majority of investments will be between $1,000 and $10,000 AUS. Profits from energy sales are returned as dividends to the investors.

Hepburn Wind in Daylesford, VIC is Australia’s first community-owned wind farm, with two turbines which produce enough clean energy for over 2000 homes. The co-operative manages the wind farm, provides financial returns to its members, and funds community projects through a community fund. Unds are generated through their electricity partner, Powershop, who pay them for the output of the wind farm at the prevailing National Electricity Market price.

Repower Shoalhaven in the South East region of NSW, was the first community investor-owned solar power system in the country and currently has 5 operating projects.