National Community Energy Strategy launches

This week a consortium of organisations, led by ISF, has launched the National Community Energy Strategy for Australia –www.c4ce.net.au/nces.

Over the past 18 months, ISF has been leading the project with the support of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and in partnership with the Alternative Technology Association (ATA), Starfish Initiatives, Community Power Agency, Embark, Total Environment Centre and E2Q.

The Strategy provides a guide for any organisation – government, community sector or private – looking to help grow a vibrant community energy sector in Australia.

But what is community energy? Community energy projects help decarbonise, decentralise and democratise our energy system and demonstrate that a renewable powered future is possible. Practically, they are projects where the community develops, delivers and benefits from sustainable energy. It can involve supply-side projects such as renewable energy installations and storage, and demand-side projects such as energy efficiency and demand management. Great example projects include Hepburn and Denmark community wind farms, RePower Shoalhaven and the CORENA donation based projects.

The National Strategy is just one of many exciting developments within the Australian community energy sector which has now grown to 20 operating community energy projects and over 70 community energy groups across Australia.

As part of the National Strategy project a Baseline Collective Impact Assessment was undertaken. This found that to date the Australian community energy sector, while still new compared to places like Germany, the US and Scotland, has:

  • Contributed over AU$23 million in community funding for energy infrastructure
  • Installed over 9 MW of renewable energy systems
  • Produced over 50,000 MWh of clean energy (as of the end of 2014)
  • Avoided over 43,000 tonnes in carbon emissions
  • Developed a membership and supporter base of over 21,000 people (not including the support base of organisations like ATA, Embark and Community Power Agency that support community energy groups).

Other recent developments include the launch of a Guide to Community Solar. The guide introduces the models of community solar that are viable in the current context and a background as to why these models work and what constrains other options within the current regulatory context.

cost and cost reduction analysis of community energy projects has also been released, which looks into more detail behind the finances and financial viability of community energy project.