Federal MP gives Byron Bay community solar garden the thumbs up

Solar garden commended by Mark Butler.Shadow Minister for Energy Mark Butler.

A solar garden scheme created by community energy company Enova has been commended by Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy Mark Butler.

Butler visited Enova’s offices in Byron Bay last week, describing the project as “ground breaking”. It would also make clean energy more accessible to renters, he said.

Solar gardens – cheaper power for renters

A solar garden is a collection of individually-owned solar panels clustered on a single site. The income earned from each panel then goes back to the owner.

Because rooftop solar panels are not viable for many Australian renters, solar gardens in a different location are the alternative.

solar garden commended by Mark Butler.

Apartment dwellers and renters can now sit back and enjoy solar energy generated at a different site. Image: Pixabay

Solar gardens are also suitable for those living in apartment blocks or houses with rooftops deprived of sun.

How the solar garden scheme works 

The co-operative model allows each garden member to buy one or more kilowatts of solar panels. Then they receive a solar energy credit on their electricity bill for the  energy generated.

Membership is also portable. When you move, your account can be transferred to a solar garden in your new location.

A feasibility study is currently under way into the viability of solar gardens for renters in eastern Australia.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is contributing $240,000 to the $555,00 project to be conducted by the Institute of Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney.

The NSW state government is also contributing, along with a range of councils, energy retailers, welfare and community energy groups. Savings on energy bills should exceed purchase or subscription costs in a successful scheme.

Solar bulk buy programs for tenants and householders

Solar bulk buy programs are also a great option to help more people access the cost-saving benefits of solar energy.

Councils and community solar organisations are increasingly offering these schemes. They team up with solar installation companies to assist people with the cost of buying a solar energy system.

These schemes can work in several different ways:

  • The householder pays the council back over several years for installation costs.
  • Costs can be added to the householder’s council rates.
  • The solar installer directly offers householders discounts on standard installation prices.

Program participants are also offered expert advice on choosing the right system and finding installers accredited by the Clean Energy Council (CEC).

Browse our directory of council and community-run solar assist programs to help you save on your power bills.