Share in the Sunshine

Don’t own or have access to a roof, but keen to go solar? Now you can. Andy Cavanagh-Downs from Sydney Renewable Power Company tells us about Sydney’s first community energy project, and how you can buy shares in the sunshine.

Tell us about the Sydney Renewable Power Company
We’re a group of volunteers who want to do more to move us from a high carbon to a low carbon economy. And the people who are involved have come from everywhere – there are lawyers, accountants, people with marketing expertise. It’s inspiring.

We set up a community solar project that will fund 520kW of solar photovoltaic generated power on the rooftop of the redeveloped Sydney International Convention Centre.  This is equivalent to the power needs of more than 100 houses.

In setting it up we worked closely with Lend Lease and Canadian Solar and we also received a City of Sydney Innovation Grant, which helps us spread the word, inspire others thinking of similar community projects and share information.

How can people buy shares?
We’ll be offering shares in the company to the general public this year. The target return is 4 to 5 per cent per annum over the life of the investment. It’s expected to be fully franked and it’s underpinned by a 25-year contract.

Aside from the returns, what are the benefits of investing?
It’s a great way to invest in the community and in renewable energy, so there are social and environmental benefits. The share buy will be open to everyone but we’d particularly love to see renters and apartment dwellers have an investment in the project. The whole point is to help expand the number of people who have direct ownership in renewable energy.

Are there other similar projects in Australia and overseas?
Globally there’s been a strong move towards community-based renewables, and in the States community based solar projects have had a very strong uptake. We’re something of a flagship in Australia, although there have been similar smaller projects such as Repower Shoalhaven.

We work with Embark, a group that assists communities to participate in community energy, and we’re hoping this project will inspire others like it.  We’d like it to be one of the first of many.

Visit the Sydney Renewable Power Company to learn more about them or express interest in shares.

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