Australian investors taking power market into their own hands
Everyday Australians are pumping millions of dollars into community-owned energy projects to wrest back control of their electricity supply.
The first snapshot of the burgeoning sector shows everyday people have financed more than 30 wind and solar projects to the tune of almost $24 million. All up, almost 8000kW of renewable energy has been installed, which is enough to power a small town.
Community Power Agency founding director Nicky Ison said the majority of recent projects were financed within hours of going out to the community, because investor demand is outstripping supply.
“Hundreds of investors are effectively missing out on getting a slice of the action every time a community energy project is seeking capital because there’s so much interest,” Ms Ison said.
“Australians know renewable energy is the future. Business and governments should take heed: mum and dad investors love clean energy and they’re putting their money where their mouth is. Projects are selling out in the blink of an eye because they’re offering great returns, giving businesses and communities more control over their power bills and helping the environment.”
Ms Ison said there were more than 90 community energy groups across the country preparing to build and run their own projects, and if governments invested a little of their own capital in supporting them then the sector could more than treble.
“Australians are saying loudly and clearly – we want to invest in renewable energy in this country, and we want to invest in our own communities. This means that jobs and investment stay local, and communities have ownership over their own power again. We think for these reasons community energy is shaping as major disruptor of our energy system.”
The Community Power Agency says governments can help kick-start new projects by building a network of support hubs across the country. These hubs would offer legal and technical advice to local volunteer groups and help them cut through red tape that’s stalling many projects.