Local, clean, green: The new generation

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ATA intern Ashleigh McMillan fills us in on the latest community energy projects driving change in Australia’s renewable energy mix.

Several communities around Australia have taken up the challenge of going 100% renewable, and many more are crowdfunding solar on schools, community centres, pubs and more. Community energy is infectious it seems!

One of the driving forces behind that growth is the Coalition for Community Energy (C4CE). Formed in June last year, with the Alternative Technology Association (ATA, ReNew’s publisher) as one of its founding members, C4CE is a coalition of organisations all aiming to assist or develop local community renewable energy projects.

A key stepping stone towards that has just been released by C4CE: the National Community Energy Strategy. This document provides a snapshot of what’s happening now in Australia’s vibrant community energy sector, alongside an examination of future potential. It includes recommendations on community energy models, funding and regulatory reform. An important aim of the national strategy is to create an environment that encourages innovation and new funding models for community energy—something the ATA is deeply supportive of!

For those looking into launching their own community energy project, the strategy includes a detailed appendix (Appendix E) on behind-the-meter solar models—those where the solar energy generation is used on-site rather than being exported to the grid. The appendix provides case studies of successful projects and, more broadly, an analysis of the challenges and costs faced by community energy projects, and how they can be addressed. It also includes an interactive decision guide to assist with working out the model most appropriate for your project (see sample at right).

The Coalition for Community Energy’s Nicky Ison says she hopes the national strategy “will help create a framework for and culture of collaboration between all organisations interested in growing a community energy sector in Australia.”

Read the full article in ReNew 132.