Fund Community Energy Campaign

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

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.

Renewables for 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