Around 400 people have resisted as investors in the SolarShare Community Energy Majura Solar Farm, a 1MW solar project in Canberra’s wine region.
When built, the $3 million solar plant will produce around 1.9GWh of renewable solar electricity each year – enough to power around 250 homes.
While only 5 per cent of the size of the Royalla Solar Farm south of Canberra, this will be owned by the community, with investors pledging $50 to $10,000 each towards its construction and maintenance. The flagship farm is predicted to earn more than $360,000 a year in revenue from selling electricity to the energy networks, its profits shared among the project’s investors.
SolarShare project leader Lawrence McIntosh said more than 5000 solar panels will be mounted on 3ha leased from the Mount Majura Vineyard.
“Wine grapes are best grown on slopes, which leaves the flatter land at the bottom of the valley with not much interest for grape growing but great for a solar project,” he said.
The company has applied for a fixed-price feed-in tariff of 20¢ a kilowatt-hour generated for 20 years.
While this plant will have the largest output out of all of the community-owned solar plants in Australia, Mr McIntosh sees it as part of a growing movement of consumers taking control over their energy future.
“We think it’s important for local ownership to have a big role as we build new energy assets,” he said.
“We’re seeing the end of life for our existing generators, they’ve been around for quite a long time so as we replace them, I think it’s really great that there’s local investment in those and a greater awareness of the impact that energy generation has and a greater level of choice in what energy generation can be.
“By investing in SolarShare, Canberra residents will gain stronger connections to local renewable energy projects and their community.”
Canberra resident David Osmond was one of the first locals to put up their hand to invest in the solar project. Working in the renewable energy sector, Mr Osmond said the benefits aren’t only financial.
“I’m concerned about climate change and fossil fuel emissions, the damage they’re doing to the atmosphere, so I’m very supportive of transitioning away from fossil fuels with solar and wind,” he said.
- 5184 solar modules
- Co-owned by 400 to 600 local community members
- Power for approximately 250 Canberra homes
- 1.9GWh of electricity each year
- 1600 Tonnes CO2 abatement each year