Is community solar a way forward for the Australian solar industry?

community owned solar system

Why not pitch in and buy a community solar system with your mates?

While our recent articles on big Aussie banks and respected mining services companies picking up the solar baton have been a huge encouragement for solar fans, news has been not as good lately in what passes for government (and alternative government) policy. Should we therefore be thinking of the burgeoning grass roots community solar movement as another way forward to the Promised Land of a renewable energy Australia?

To recap, as we approach That One Day in September, the present government (in the form of ARENA) announced it was pulling $60 million out of the Whyalla solar thermal farm project in South Australia. While not exactly dead in the water, the sudden withdrawal of government dosh has at least shot the ground breaking solar thermal project in the foot.

This dramatic withdrawing of funding ahead of the election informs the electorate that the present government is perhaps not as serious about solar energy as it would like us to believe. For an excellent in-depth discussion on the Labor party’s policy (or non policy) see Tristan Edis’s article in Climate Spectator.

Of course a quick glance over the other side of the Treasury benches reveals not so much a policy on solar power but a collection of Neanderthal grunts that appear to augur poorly for the future of any form of energy that doesn’t pollute our air and water or raise the level of greenhouse gases.

Or am I being too harsh here readers?

However while Australian banks,businesses and households appear to be taking to solar energy like an Opposition frontbencher to a bad haircut, perhaps it is only natural that our elected representatives will lead from behind until they see the light. However the people don’t seem to be ready to wait that long. I speak here of the springing up of community solar projects. Your correspondent was reminded of this light at the end of the tunnel by this article in the respected North NSW Northern Star referring to the work done on a proposed community solar farm in East Lismore, northern NSW.

An intriguing joint project between the forward-thinking Lismore City Council, the Farming the Sun project, and Juno Energy, the article refers to the fact that the proposed site of the farm had met all criteria and was ready to receive the official nod of approval.

“The inspection was to enable the company Juno Energy – who will be installing the solar panels – to meet with staff that work at the sewage treatment plant and essentially investigate the best location for the solar farm to go in,” according to Council’s Environmental Strategies Coordinator, Nick Stephens.

Hear that federal and state pollies? A branch of government that is enthusiastically supporting solar energy.

Community solar is already popping up around the country — see this article about the South Melbourne markets — and looks to have a big future. It has the advantage of being locally-run and centred on community needs. Back to the future? When localisation was the key? Interesting thought.

Please don’t hesitate to have your say either here or over at our increasingly-popular Facebook Page.

 

Comments

  1. Don’t forget about SolarShare in Canberra!

    • Thanks Nick. I’m looking to do more in the way of articles on community energy and would be interested in getting in touch. Can you contact us through our Facebook Page?

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