Australia’s flagship community energy project is 5 years old and they continue to innovate (and to pump out clean energy from wind). “Community Green” is Hepburn Wind’s carbon offset program based on businesses, organisations and individuals purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) generated by the two wind turbines. The best bit? – they extinguish the certificates, creating more demand for renewable energy in the energy market.
Find out more https://www.hepburnwind.com.au/community-green-offset/
As mentioned, Hepburn is 5 years old and they tell us they’ve created 50,000,000kWh of clean energy, harvested from the wind just outside Daylesford in Victoria.
CORENA has just completed its 13th project, 6kW solar for Kulchajam at Byron Bay, and are halfway through funding a large solar project for Tastex, a Tassie knitwear factory that employs people with a disability. CORENA punching out new project almost isn’t news anymore, so we’re reporting on what their unique revolving fund means in practice.
We all understand intuitively that a revolving fund means money is used again later on in other projects and should make it easier to fund subsequent projects, but how much benefit is it actually? Obviously it will vary depending on project size and the amount of time between projects, but the chart below shows what has happened so far for CORENA projects. The chart represents a total of $127,325 of newly donated funds and a total of $42,536 in loan repayments to date.
The table below shows is a screen-shot from CORENA’s newly released Impact Calculator and shows how much benefit has been achieved so far from a donation of $100 to either of the first two CORENA projects. Neither has finished repaying its interest-free loan yet, but the impact of the original $100 has roughly doubled already. How? Direct loan repayments from Project 1, for example, have helped fund many subsequent projects, but in addition, at least some ‘Project 1 money’ has also been in loan repayments from those subsequent projects.
So far 83% of the money originally donated to Project 1 has been used a second time via direct loan repayments from Project 1. However, some of the money originally donated to Project 1 has now been used 3 or even more times. Project 1 money accounted for 14% of the loan repayments from Project 2, 4% of repayments from Project 3, and 1.5%, 2%, 2%, and 0.3% respectively of repayments from Projects 4, 5, 7, and 11.
Of course, even after both projects have finished repaying their loans, and even after those projects reach the end of their lifespan, that $100 will continue to be used again and again, so the growth in impact is primarily just a function of time.
Tyalgum is situated in far northern New South Wales and the Tyalgum Energy Project has ambitious plans for powering their town with renewable energy. The clever people behind the project have a strong desire to bring the whole town on the journey with them and they plan to create universal support among the town’s 120 households. To achieve this the group plans to have small but meaningful developments along the path to their ultimate goal.
This weekend, Tyalgum Energy Project will be launching their electric bike facility. After a sponsorship from Dyson Bikes, the project was able to purchase 5 electric bikes and has established a stand-alone charging station using solar and batteries.
The electric bike station will be located next to the heritage listed General Store, with the launch taking place between 11am and 2pm and will be run alongside the monthly Tyalgum Village Markets. It will be a great opportunity to check out the village, the project and take a little ‘spin’ on the newest bikes on the block.
Andrew Price, Kacey Clifford, along with Patrick Bergeron and a select group of community members have been having regular monthly meetings and working together to research solutions for the community. The project now has Patrick as a full time engineer and has been positively progressing with solar systems about to be installed on roofs in the next couple of months.
Hats off to the folk behind Renewable Newstead who earlier this year signed an historic agreement with the Victorian network operator Powercor to support its transition to 100 per cent renewable, locally generated energy. The Memorandum of Understanding is the first major step for Renewable Newstead towards realising its plan of making the regional Victorian town 100 per cent renewable by 2021 via a purpose built community-scale grid.
According to the MOU with Newstead, Powercor will support the town by providing industry know-how on such matters as the energy load profile, grid stability and reliability, financial modelling, and other technical advice. The agreement comes one year after the Victorian government provided $200,000 in grant funding to the Newstead group for regional community-led clean energy development.
Lismore City Council and Farming the Sun have now completed negotiations to build two solar farms at the Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre and East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant. Farming the Sun are currently working on finalising loan agreements (between the two community companies created and Lismore City Council), establishing administrative and financial systems for the community companies, and launching the Private Investment Offers.
Watch this space for imminent announcements
Since their successful fundraising, Enova have been busy preparing the processes and systems that will form the backbone of their business. This process of building the retail company is a major project for Enova and will enable them to start bringing their first customers on-board.
In addition to this, Enova have moved into new premises in Byron Bay in NSW and they have also commenced work on establishing their Not For Profit arm, Enova Community, who will deliver non-financial benefits back into the Northern Rivers community.
The creation of Australia’s first community-owned energy retailer is a very welcome development for the sector and we look forward to tracking their development over the coming months and years.
CORENA leads the way in donation-based community energy, with their unique “Quick Win” revolving fund model that re-uses donated funds for multiple solar projects.
Donated funds are used to provide interest-free loans to community organisations so they can pay for solar installations and energy efficiency measures. These loans are repaid over time out of the savings made on power bills. Repayments then help fund subsequent projects.
Corena are fundraising for their 12th and 13th project and to-date have raised almost $120,000 – all donated by a growing supporter base from across Australia. Projects have been completed in South Australia, Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
ClearSky are true pioneers in community energy in Australia. Setup in 2013 by the Northern Beaches (Sydney) chapter of Clean Energy for Eternity, the group’s objective was to empower local communities to benefit environmentally and economically from the production of clean energy.
ClearSky Solar Investments launched its first project in 2013 with an installation on a pub in Boggabri NSW. Since then community investors have financed 12 projects across NSW and Victoria with a total capacity of 440 kW. Community investors get a return of between 6 to 9% depending on the terms of the contract. To date ClearSky Solar have raised over $650,000 in capital and have paid out $118,000 in quarterly payments to investors.