Geelong community group fosters local renewable energy

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A sustainability group in Geelong Victoria is a prime example of how locally-owned renewable energy projects can benefit a community.

The Geelong Sustainability CORE (Community Owned Renewable Energy) group has provided an update of its current solar and renewable projects in the region.

CORE was established to create an ‘energy democracy’, and to help make renewable energy accessible to all Geelong residents, including tenants.

The group has focused on aged care, due to the sector’s high energy usage and larger facility roof spaces.

Building communities based on sustainable solar energy

A solar initiative in Geelong is bringing light into the community.

In 2015 the group successfully completed a 9.25 kW crowdfunded solar system project at South Geelong Primary School.

Geelong’s CORE solar projects

CORE projects in Geelong include:

    • Installation of a 150kW community-owned solar power system on an aged care facility. The project will be opened for investment early 2018 and should be completed by mid-year.
    • A solar power feasibility assessment for an organisation that runs three aged care facilities. The study showed potential savings of more than $50,000 p.a. and a 6-7 year payback.

In addition, a community solar and battery bulk-buy pilot project is underway. Members are involved in the bulk-buying of solar panels and/or energy storage batteries to test the group-purchase model.

A Public Sustainability Fund to support low-income households to install solar systems is also a CORE scheme. A solar advisory to provide independent expert advice on solar power and battery storage is available as well.

Behind the meter and solar for renters

CORE schemes also involve a solar-for-renters case study. This will examine how both landlords and tenants could save money through solar installations on rental properties.

There’s also a community solar financing model for 30-100 kW behind-the-meter solar systems. This is expected to generate better-than-bank returns for investors.

Discussions with local government regarding development of a community solar system project model are also underway. The aim is to guarantee 10-15 years of funding to go towards community sustainability initiatives.

About Geelong

The port city of Geelong is Victoria’s second-largest city after Melbourne, with an estimated population of 191,000.

According to data from the Clean Energy Regulator and the ABS there are 6,977 dwellings eligible for rooftop solar in the region.

A total of 683 or 9.2% of these have solar panel installations, with an installed capacity of 2,860 kW.