Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Push for $50m fund to support community energy projects
31 May 2013

Community energy and pro renewable NGOs are calling for the Federal government to establish a $50 million fund that would seek to leverage up to half a billion dollar of investment in community-owned renewable energy projects.

The call for a Community Energy Grant Fund is an attempt to offer a catalyst for growing community interest in renewable energy projects, and to fill in a gap in the country's portfolio of renewable energy projects of between 10kW and 50MW.

According to a proposal led by the Community Power Agency, Yes2Renewables and other NGOs and community energy groups, the funding could cover early stage development costs for around 75 projects and bring them to the stage of being investment ready and able to release share offerings to the community.

This would include feasibility studies, resource assessment (such as wind monitoring), community engagement, planning studies, business case development, and legal advice.

The proposal seeks to tap into growing interest in the community renewables space, as outlined in RenewEconomy last week. On Thursday, the NSW Government confirmed our story that it is awarding $441,000 to help 9 local groups lay the groundwork for some community energy projects-mostly commercial scale rooftop solar-and to conduct feasibility studies.

Many more projects are being contemplated, organisations such as Community Power, Embark, and Starfish Enterprises have numerous proposals on their books, and say this fund would take the concept of community energy onto a national scale.

Community Power's Nicky Ison said more than 35 communities across Australia are developing community owned wind and solar projects, but only two are up and running-the Hepburn wind farm in Victoria and the wind farm in WA. "If the other 33 groups don't receive start-­up assistance soon, they risk dying on the vine", she said.

Read more