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Creating a vibrant Australian community energy sector

Strategic Initiatives

About Strategic Initiatives 

Strategic Initiatives are the engine room of the Coalition for Community Energy. They are collaborative efforts instigated, led and delivered by C4CE members.  They are bodies of work devised to achieve one or more objectives set out in the National Community Energy Strategy or to address new challenges or opportunities to grow the community energy sector in Australia.  By this simple but scalable structure, we the C4CE members will develop a vibrant community energy sector in Australia.

Want to set up a strategic initiative?

Strategic Initiatives can be formal projects, emergent initiatives or working groups which lead particular aspects of the sector and are clearly better done collaboratively.  The Steering Group approves Strategic Initiatives and the Secretariat supports their creation and operation but otherwise they are self-governing groups comprised (predominantly) of C4CE members.

If you have an idea for a Strategic Initiative and the desire to work collaboratively under the C4CE banner please contact us at – secretariat@c4ce.net.au for a copy of the Strategic Initiative Proposal Template and to discuss your idea in more detail.

Benefits available to C4CE Strategic Initiatives

If a community energy project or initiative is a collaboration between two or more members of C4CE they may request C4CE to adopt the project as a Strategic Initiative of C4CE. Approved Strategic Initiatives receive the following benefits and support:

  • Support to develop the proposal from the Secretariat and Strategic Initiative Sub-Committee, including sector expertise, alignment with what is already happening and suggestions of appropriate organisations to collaborate.
  • Support to help fundraise for the initiative from the Secretariat, noting that strategic initiative leaders will have to lead the fundraising effort.
  • Brand use of C4CE once approved (with the necessary disclaimer that this initiative does not necessarily represent the views of all C4CE members).
  • Access to the C4CE Auspice arrangement with ATA if desirable.

C4CE Strategic Initiatives

Current

Finance Toolkit

C4CE Members Embark and Community Power Agency are excited to be involved in the development of a Finance Toolkit for community energy. The project led by Frontier Energy and supported by funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), will create a comprehensive finance toolkit including check-lists, case studies, financial models and more that will help make community energy projects easier to develop. The project also includes participation from the NSW Government and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).


Status: 
Started in June 2015, currently underway.

Initiative lead:  Frontier Energy

Initiative partners: Embark, Community Power Agency

Initiative funder:  Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)

Contact details: Jennifer@frontierenergy.com.au

Past

Guide to Community-Owned Renewable Energy for Victorians

This Community-owned Renewable Energy Guide is designed to help community groups navigate the process of establishing a community energy project.

Download the guide here

Initiative lead: Embark

Initiative partners: Moreland Energy Foundation, Community Power Agency, Alternative Technology Association

Initiative funder: Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport & Resources


Renewables 4 All

The Renewables for All advocacy project was undertaken to help create the policy settings and regulatory and market context that allows all Australians, no matter their income or living arrangements, to be able to directly benefit from clean energy solutions such as solar PV, storage and energy efficiency.

Specifically, through this project we advocated to governments to develop programs and support innovation in new social enterprise business models that increase access to clean energy for low-income households, renters, apartment dwellers and homeowners without solar access.

Through a series of discussion papers, state-based workshops in NSW, Qld, Vic, SA and the ACT a series of priority models were identified that show promise for increasing clean energy affordability and accessibility to those who most need it.

This project resulted in six policy briefing papers that set out what governments can do to support renewables for all.

Renewables for All – A Priority Energy Policy Agenda for Australia

Solar Gardens

Rates-based financing and Rent-based financing

Community owned renewable energy 

Mini Grids and embedded networks

Initiative lead: Community Power Agency

Initiative partners: Starfish Initiatives, Solar Share, Energetic Communities, Conservation Council of South Australia

Initiative funder: Energy Consumers Australia


Solar Suburbs

The Solar Suburbs project developed a model for engaging an entire community so that residential rooftop solar adoption rates can be increased. With a focus on urban communities (suburbs), the project took a holistic approach in identifying and eliminating the barriers preventing higher rates of adoption of sustainable energy in a particular suburb.

The Solar Suburbs project was designed to contribute to the delivery of the NCES Sub Strategy I: Models of Community Energy. This included contributing to the priority initiative “Develop models of community energy based on Environmental Upgrade Agreement financing models”

Final report: Solar Suburbs final evaluation report WEB

Initiative lead: Solar Suburbs

Initiative partners: Moreland Energy Foundation, Community Power Agency, Alternative Technology Association

Initiative funder: NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) Growing Community Energy grant program

Contact details: Brett Murphy at solarsuburbs@gmail.com or Tom Nockolds at tom@cpagency.org.au


National Community Energy Strategy

C4CE is currently developing a National Community Energy Strategy.  This strategy, based on a significant body of research tapping into the status of 38 projects across Australia, proposes a series of objectives and priority initiatives to grow the community energy sector.  It seeks to:

  • Ensure the 70+ community energy projects in development are up and running, benefiting their communities, and
  • Successful models are replicated in communities across Australia.

The strategy covers five priority areas: Capacity Building, Profile Raising, Finance and Funding, Business Models and Policy and Regulatory Reform.

As part of the NCES project a number of really useful resources for community energy groups and policy makers were developed:


Status:
 Completed – though the Strategy will be updated periodically.

Initiative lead: Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney

Initiatives Partners: Alternative Technology Association, Starfish Initiatives, Community Power Agency, Embark, Total Environment Centre, Moreland Energy Foundation and E2Q

Initiative funder: ARENA

Contact details: for more information about the National Strategy contact Nicky Ison on Nicola.ison@uts.edu.au, 02 9514 4839.

Further information is available at c4ce.net.au/nces


Community Energy Congress

Across Australia, communities are coming together to pursue genuine sustainability opportunities, and few are as compelling as community energy projects. Communities are leading the way in creating sustainable energy enterprises that increase local energy security, create regional community development opportunities, and directly act to reduce carbon emissions.

The Community Energy Congress brought together for the first time, all the key players in the emerging Australian community energy sector.  C4CE is intending to hold a second Community Energy Congress in November 2016.


Status:
The Community Energy Congress was held on June 16 & 17, 2014 and the National Library of Australia in Canberra.

Initiative lead: Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney

Initiative partners: Alternative Technology Association, Starfish Initiatives, Community Power Agency, Embark, Total Environment Centre.

Initiative funder: ARENA funding and sponsorship from NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Zhenfa, FRV, ACT Government Environmental and Sustainable Development Directorate, Bendigo Bank, City of Sydney and Infigen.

Contact details: for more information contact Nicky Ison on Nicola.ison@uts.edu.au, 02 9514 4839.

Further information is available on the 2014 Community Energy Congress page, the Congress Harvest Site and the Congress Evaluation Report.


Virtual Net Metering

This Strategic Initiative of the C4CE is a project primarily funded by the Consumer Advocacy Panel, managed by the Total Environment Centre and undertaken by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at UTS. The Steering Group also includes the Alternative Technology Association and Sustainable Regional Australia. The City of Sydney is a key project partner.

Currently community energy projects are only viable if they are large scale and compete on the wholesale market (such as Hepburn Wind), or if they operate ‘behind the meter’ (such as community solar on commercial sites), attracting close to retail value for their generated energy. This restricts projects to specific sites with sufficient available load, and limits the opportunities for CE projects to sell energy to their members.

Virtual Net Metering (VNM) is a proposed arrangement that would overcome this barrier by allowing distributed generators to assign their ‘exported’ electricity generation to other nearby sites. In doing so it would provide distributed community energy projects with a fair price for the energy they generate and export to the grid. The project involves the identification and development of specific methodologies to value the contribution of local exports to the electricity grid, underpinned by the principles of cost and value reflectivity. The ultimate goal of the three-stage project is the development of a Rule Change Proposal to allow VNM on public electricity grids, which would see appropriate charging for local use of the system, and a new business model for electricity networks into the future.


Status:
The first two stages of investigating VNM have been completed.  ISF currently has funding from ARENA to undertake further research, including undertaking trials in five locations.  However, this is not a Strategic Initiative of C4CE, though a C4CE representative sits on the reference group.

Initiative lead: Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney

Initiative funder: City of Sydney, Total Environment Centre, Consumer Advocacy Panel

Contact details: for more information contact Edward Langham on Edward.Langham@uts.edu.au, 02 9514 4971.


Fund Community Energy Campaign

Right across Australia local communities are working hard to set up community-owned renewable energy projects to power their towns and buildings. But, like any new industry, they need financial assistance to achieve this. Communities unlike corporations don’t have large reserves of capital to draw on, making access to early stage funding one of the biggest barriers to a vibrant community energy sector in Australia.

Building on successful grant funds for community energy across the world, this campaign is calling on the federal government to establish a $50 million grant program to support the development stage of community renewable energy projects.

Specifically, a new fund would help projects through the difficult early stages – from inception, feasibility studies, planning approval, all the way to becoming investment-ready. Economic modelling has shown support now could kick-start the community-energy sector and unlock over $800 million in community investment.


Status:
The Fund Community Energy Campaign started in May 2013, it is currently being reviewed for the 2016 federal election.

Initiative lead: Community Power Agency

Initiative funder: Philanthropic donations

Contact details: for more information about the Fund Community Energy Campaign contact Manny Pasqualini on manny@cpagency.org.au.

To find out more and get involved in the campaign go to: www.fundcommunityenergy.org/fund_community_energy


Defending Australia’s Renewable Energy Target

Australia’s Renewable Energy Target is under attack–the government has announced a review of the RET led by a panel of individuals with vested interests in fossil fuels. The handpicked panel membership shows clear evidence that the Abbott Government is looking to cut the RET, if not remove it all together.

Communities across Australia are developing innovative enterprise models to deliver renewable energy in their regions, towns and cities. A strong Renewable Energy Target is imperative in helping these projects—ranging from shared solar installations to community-scale bioenergy and wind farms—get off the ground and become economically viable.

Protecting the Australian Renewable Energy Target is essential to maintaining the growth of the community renewable energy sector. Now is the time for a strong display of community support!


Status:
The Community Energy RET Campaign started in April 2014 and was completed in May 2015.

Initiative lead: Community Power Agency

Initiative funder: Philanthropic donations

Contact details: for more information about the Community Energy RET Campaign contact Nicky Ison on nicky@cpagency.org.au

© Copyright - C4CE: C4CE does not endorse or assume any responsibility for members, community groups or their initiatives. See ‘Role of C4CE’ for details.
C4CE is an unincorporated collaboration and initiative of the Alternative Technology Association.