Australia’s First Community Owned Large Scale Solar Project

A new community project aims to cover South Melbourne Market’s new roof with solar panels.
150 solar panels have already been installed, funded by Port Phillip Council. LIVE (Locals Into Victoria’s Environment) wants to cover the remaining 95% of the rooftop with solar (around 3,000 panels) via community investment.
“Currently we think a Co-operative structure for LIVE Community Power best matches the principles to which we aspire,” states the group’s web site. 
The group envisions selling around 1,000 shares at $1,000 each to the community. Electricity generated by the installation would be sold and provide a return to shareholders.
LIVE and the City of Port Phillip have commissioned a feasibility study for the project, expected to be completed in February 2013. If the feasibility study determines that covering the entire roof is viable, the 3,000 panels would generate about 1,280,000 kWh of electricity per year – enough to supply the Market’s total electricity, with surplus to be exported to the mains grid.
Should the project gain the support it needs, the installation of the panels will occur during 2013.
Community solar projects allow people who cannot install solar panels on their own homes for whatever reason to directly participate in the solar revolution.
Community funded solar projects have already been successfully rolled out in the UK and the USA. Closer to home, the communities of Hepburn Springs and Daylesford in Victoria raised $13.5 Million to build the Hepburn Community Wind Park; winner of the 2012 World Wind Energy Award.
“The time for community funded solar has arrived,” says the group. “We would like to be the first.”
LIVE is an independent, non-profit, climate change action group campaigning for a transition to a sustainable future. Among its other projects is the South Melbourne Commons, which incorporates a community food garden that supplies produce for the Commons Café and food cooperative.