MEFL’s Renewables Broker, Manny Pasqualini gave a presentation recently to students in RMIT’s Master of Engineering (Sustainable Energy) course.
Manny’s presentation focused on community energy, defined as “projects where a community group initiates, develops, operates and benefits from a renewable energy resource or energy efficiency initiative”. Manny outlined the various overlapping benefits of community energy; not only do such projects have environmental benefits, but because they are locally initiated and controlled they have strong social, political and economic benefits as well. For example, community energy projects can create local jobs and income. They can also build social capital by enabling local decision-making, engagement and empowerment.
The presentation gave an overview of the Australian energy system, how community energy can improve our experience with energy, and provided some local and overseas examples of the potential for community energy – Germany being a great example with almost 50% of all renewable energy being owned by citizens and communities.
There are currently over 70 community energy projects up and running in Australia, and 90 more under development. Some examples of current projects are Hepburn Community Wind and Bendigo Sustainability Group in Victoria, while Repower Shoalhaven, Clearsky Solar and Pingala Cooperative have all set up pioneering community solar models in NSW. And of course, MEFL is working with Moreland Community Solar to get a project happening right here in our local area.
There’s lots more information in the Guide to Community-owned Renewable Energy for Victorians (co-authored by MEFL), or get in touch with Moreland Community Solar if you want to get involved in a local project!