The Australian community solar movement continues to grow and evolve at a healthy rate. This is evidenced by the continued expansion of some of the nation’s most successful models such as Repower Shoalhaven and ClearSky Solar Investments. There is also a host of newly installed projects, now totalling over 70 nationwide.
Here in Victoria the community solar sector has been given a significant boost via the State Government’s $20 million ‘New Energy Jobs Fund’. The fund is providing crucial seed funding to selected community energy groups to help them develop their models. An early result for the programme can be measured by the increase in ambition and scope of community solar projects currently under development.
A great example is the Wodonga Community Solar Project, led by Renewable Albury Wodonga Energy (RAW), the City of Wodonga, and currently being supported by the Moreland Energy Foundation consulting team.
MEFL’s role in the project is to lead delivery of a Feasibility Study looking at partnership options and models to enable development of 2MW of community solar. This is equivalent to removing approximately 3100 tonnes of CO2 annually.
Another important element of the project scope is to build in to the business model a commitment to divert part of the project revenue to deliver assistance to low-income households in Wodonga through the provision of energy efficiency retrofits capable of further driving down carbon emissions while improving comfort and health of local residents in need.
While it is a work in progress, strong leadership by RAW, Council and key local stakeholders is helping MEFL to facilitate the process and build a set of options for this ambitious project that seeks to deliver strong social, environmental and economic benefits for its local community.