ARENA pushes to catalyse community renewables

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced its support for a strategy to catalyse community renewables in Australia, following strong interest from the sector.

The association’s chief executive officer Ivor Frischknecht said ARENA is providing $165,280 to the University of Sydney (UTS) Institute for Sustainable Futures for a $266,280 project that aims to develop a strategic approach to growing the capacity of the community renewables sector.

“This project brings key players in the sector together to investigate the challenges and opportunities of community renewable projects and chart a pathway for the sector to tap into its potential,” Mr Frischknecht said.

The project will investigate funding models, skills and regulatory barriers for community renewable projects through research, workshops and a National Community Energy Congress.

“Community energy projects encourage regional economic development, create local jobs and encourage community support for renewables, helping the development of other projects across Australia,” Mr Frischknecht said.

UTS project leader Nicola Ison said community renewables represent an opportunity for Australians to play an active role in where their electricity comes from.

“Community-owned renewable energy projects put power in the hands of Australian towns and suburbs, providing an exciting opportunity, particularly for renters, to get involved in Australia’s renewable energy future,” Ms Ison said.

“ARENA’s support helps take this promising and committed part of the Australian renewable energy sector forward.”

The congress will take place in early 2014 in Canberra and the strategy is due for delivery in mid 2014. UTS’s project partners include Starfish Enterprises Network Limited, Backroad Connections, Alternative Technology Association, Community Power Agency, New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, Total Environment Centre, Embark and Sustainable Regional Australia.