To assist Victorian community groups with the uptake of community solar, a revised edition of the Coalition for Community Energy’s Small-Scale Community Solar Guide is now available.
The guide shows community organisations the best way to buy and maintain solar systems. It also provides proven models for community solar uptake and the legal structures that underpin them.
All models are for ‘behind the meter’ solar installations for on-site use only. This means the size of the solar array equals the host site’s needs, avoiding the issue of selling electricity into the market.
Models show how to manage Victorian community solar
Using case studies, the guide goes into detail about how money is raised to install the solar power system. It also discusses who owns the system and the legal ramifications of each model for the community organisation.
The different models of solar community energy installations serve the varying needs of a range of organisations. The guide divides these into five areas and provides case studies which exemplify the models in question.
Donation/philanthropic projects involve a community raising funds through donations which it can then issues as loans.
- Community investment
Community investment projects are typically initiated and led by a community organisation such as a cooperative or company.
- Community-developer partnerships
This where a community group or a renewable energy developer initiates a renewable energy project and both parties agree to deliver it in partnership.
- Community-council partnership
These enable a community energy group to access council resources, such as a premise or land to install a renewable energy system or council administrative resources.
A community group collaborates with a number of premises to bulk-buy and install renewable energy technology. Works when there is a network of organisations in proximity to each other.
Quick Win – fundraising by donation
One example of fundraising is the ‘Quick Win’ project model from CORENA (Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Australia).
In this model, anyone in the community who wants to can donate to a fund. The fund is then available to provide loans to community organisations. This model ensures access to finance is not a barrier because projects self-fund through savings on energy bills.
In her introduction to the revised guide, CEO of Sustainability Victoria Stephanie Ziersch said community energy played a critical role at a grassroots level.
“It enables communities to take ownership of their energy generation and use in a way that promotes the sustainable use of resources and helps create a better future for all Victorians,” she said.
The guide continues to help community organisations fight rising power prices by lighting the path to community solar power. It may be a complex procedure, but it’s well worth the effort to ‘future proof’ an organisation’s power needs.