YCAN is very proud and excited to be working on a new community initiative…Yarra Community Solar!
This page gives an update of where the Yarra Community Solar project is up to. Have a look and if you have time, skills or ideas to offer, we’d love to hear from you.
What is this Yarra Community Solar thing?
We want to create a medium-scale community-owned rooftop solar ‘power station’ in our local area. We are looking at installing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system of about 100kW, or 400 solar panels, on the roof of a large local building.
The funds to buy and install the solar panels will be provided by the community. In return, community investors will receive an annual return. Check out the diagram of the proposed model at the bottom of this page.
Why is Yarra Community Solar so great?
Yarra Community Solar will result in the local production of zero emissions renewable energy. It will also give people in Yarra who can’t install solar panels on their own rooves (renters, those who live in apartment blocks, those with an unsuitable roof etc.) the opportunity to benefit from the switch to solar power.
While the practical benefits will apply to us here in the City of Yarra, the project will also add further momentum to the growing, worldwide trend that is seeing communities in Australia (e.g. Hepburn Wind) and around the world build successful community-owned renewable energy projects. Check out these case studies from Embark.
Where are we up to?
- Pre-feasibility study
A group of skilled solar engineers, project managers and community power advocates have come together through YCAN’s Energy Working Group to develop a pre-feasibility study.
They’ve been asking: What kinds of medium-scale solar projects will work best in our area? Which Yarra roofs could host the solar panels? What are our options for ensuring a secure, financially and socially beneficial community ownership model for the project?
- Community forum
On May 19, 2012 YCAN hosted a forum at the Athol Gill Centre in Clifton Hill to present the idea to community members. It was attended by over 45 people, who heard presentations from:
- Jim Castles from the Yarra Energy Foundation
- Mary Dougherty from Embark
- Lara Olsen, Neil Erenstrom and Ian Mack from YCAN’s Energy Working Group and
- Adam Bandt, the local Federal Member of Parliament.
Check out the fantastically successful Trivia and Auction Night held at the Fitzroy Town Hall in August 2012. The night raised funds for Yarra Community Solar as part of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition’s Repower Australia campaign.
The attention we’ve been getting…
You can tell you’re onto a good thing when you start getting fantastic media coverage even as the project is just beginning…
- Coverage in The Age: Michael Green, ‘Something new under the sun‘ , The Age, May 13, 2012. See also: Community Funded Solar on the author’s website.
- Coverage in the Melbourne Leader: Paula Maud, ‘Solar forum in Clifton Hill‘, Melbourne Leader, May 16, 2012
- Coverage on Energy Matters Video News: The project has also been featured in a recent episode of Energy Matters Video News (2nd story)
How does our community solar model work?
The simple diagram below shows how the community investment model will work.
1. Community members get together to invest in an independent entity: Yarra Community Solar.
2. Yarra Community Solar enters into an agreement with a local building owner who agrees to host the rooftop solar panels and pay a set price for the electricity produced.
3. Yarra Community Solar buys, installs and owns the solar panels on the building roof.
4. The electricity generated by the solar panels is sold by Yarra Community Solar to either the building owner (and used for operations on-site) or to the electricity grid.
5. and 6. Yarra Community Solar passes on revenue from the sale of electricity back to its community shareholders.
How you can get involved
The Yarra Community Solar team would particularly love to hear from people with any of these skills…
- Download this overview presentation to the May 2012 forum delivered by two of the authors of the pre-feasibility study – Lara Olsen and Neil Erenstrom.
- Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org