Free MASH solar installation helps Castlemaine community hub grow mushrooms

Solar rebate sees demand for solar installations soaring in Victoria.More Australian Solar Homes (MASH)

A Castlemaine community service can now power its mushroom farm cheaply, thanks to a free solar installation donated by the MASH solar bulk-buy scheme.

Windarring’s Day Service received a free 6.48 kW solar installation from the MASH (More Australian Solar Homes) community group.

The Windarring support service for people with a disability also runs the Urban Mushroom social enterprise from its site in Barker Street. Savings from generating solar electricity will now be used to develop its role as a local disability employer.

Bill savings projected decades ahead

Up to $2,500 could be shaved off Windarring’s electricity bill over the first year. This is great news according to Jo Kaptein, who manages the MASH solar bulk-buy scheme.

Free solar installation supports disability group's mushroom farm.

Solar power is helping a Castlemaine disability group grow mushrooms as part of a sustainable social enterprise.

Around $67,000 could then be saved over 20 years. Up to 43 per cent of the site’s electricity demand will also be met by the system’s 24 solar panels.

Free solar installation helps coffee and mushrooms sing

The solar initiative breathes new life into a sustainable venture which recycles local coffee waste into the Windarring compost system. The compost is then used to grow quality mushrooms which are then sold back to local eateries.

Windarring now hopes to employ more disabled residents in its supported work program. The scheme has potential to grow up to 100 kilograms of organic oyster mushrooms weekly, as reported by the ABC.

Because growing mushrooms requires lots of energy, the solar installation is a huge bonus for the site.

According to Windarring Project Manager Mark Castle, production could now increase tenfold. This would then provide more paid employment for local people with disabilities.

MASH solar bulk-buy scheme continues the good work

Because MASH aims to be 100 per carbon neutral by 2025, it’s on a mission to make rooftop solar panels and energy storage batteries cheaper and more accessible for locals.

The bulk-buy program allows people to pay discounted prices for brand-name solar installations.

MASH expects around 22 per cent of Hepburn Shire homes to have a solar power system by the end of 2018. The non-profit group could then donate up to $20,000 in free solar to community groups like Windarring.

A range of council and community schemes also exist to help householders access affordable solar power.