SMART ENERGY COMMUNITIES

Farming the Sun

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Community members at the Lismore launch of Farming the Sun

Community energy projects can be a truly sustainable form of development. They deliver the obvious renewable energy as well as build the new economy and profound community engagement and education.

The direct participation of people and organisations that is core to community energy projects can totally transform their understanding of the importance and benefits of renewable energy. Starfish has seen this happen during its experience with its Farming the Sun initiative, one of Australia's largest community solar energy initiatives which has installed $7m worth of solar energy systems to date.

Farming the Sun is expanding into community-owned solar farms. Resources have been secured to establish 9 solar farms in the North Coast and Riverina regions of NSW.

The most significant barrier to more successful community energy projects is greater access to funding for the initial project development costs. This covers the critical stages of work before the community is able to invest their own funds. For example, with the community solar farm project, these up-front funds generate $25-$30 more investment for each dollar of government funding”.
Adam Blakester, Director, Starfish Enterpises, Coordinator of Farming the Sun  – Armidale, NSW.