Australia’s Largest Community Solar Project Fully Funded

Community solar project in Canberra

Proposed site of Australia’s biggest community solar power facility | SolarShare

Strong interest in a community solar project in Canberra has resulted in it easily securing the full capital investment needed to construct what will be Australia’s largest community-owned solar facility.

The Canberra Times reports ACT investors have ponied up just over $3 million for the project, which will be built at a site between the old Majura Rd and the new Majura bypass if approved.

The 1MW project will occupy approximately 3 hectares and consist of 5,184 solar panels that will generate an estimated 1.9 gigawatt hours of electricity each year. The clean power station’s output will be enough to supply the electricity needs of 250 homes, while avoiding 1,600 of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

“The area combines local agriculture and produce with nearby institutions like the Winery and Truffle farm and can now boast to being a focal point for local communities transitioning to a renewable future through innovation in sustainability,” says the SolarShare project page.

Shares in the project cost $10 each, with a minimum purchase amount of $500 and blocks of 50 shares after that. SolarShare is aiming to provide a return to member investors in the range of 4 to 6 percent.

Plans lodged with the ACT Government are awaiting final approval and assuming that is received in the next few months, project leader Lawrence McIntosh said the team were working toward an early 2018 build.

Once constructed, the solar farm will become another feature of what’s been called the ACT’s “Solar Highway”, which stretches from Majura Parkway in Canberra’s north to the Monaro Highway in the south. The Highway features Mt Majura, Williamsdale and Royalla solar farms, plus Mugga Lane Solar Park.

Established in 2012, SolarShare evolved after Canberra Clean Energy established there was significant interest in community PV in the region.

“As our climate is changing, so is our society. SolarShare is part of the shift to an economy where communities have an important part to play in our energy choices,” says the group.

Keen On Starting Your Own Community Solar Project?

If you’re interested in setting up a community solar energy project in your region, Embark and the Community Power Agency are good places to start for resources and other information.

Embark focuses on accelerating uptake of community renewable energy projects by providing capacity-building tools and seed and investment funding.  The Community Power Agency supports community groups in navigating the complex process of setting up a project.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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