A Community House in South Australia has installed a 10kW rooftop solar system, after the energy and cost-saving project was funded by a $17,560 interest-free loan from CORENA – from the Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Australia Inc (CORENA).
The SolarEdge system, made up of 40 Yingli solar panels, was installed on the Op Shop roof at the Gawler Community House, which is located near the Barossa region of SA.
With an expected output of 15,200kWh/yr, the system will supply electricity to three of the Community House’s buildings, displacing 10,900kWh from the grid and exporting 4,300kWh on weekends.) It is expected to save the Gawler Community House around $3500 a year and pay itself off in less than five years.
CORENA – a not-for-profit organisation – was set up to help provide a means to collectively fund renewable energy installations that wouldn’t otherwise attract financial support.
As its website says, “people from all over Australia donate to CORENA’s revolving funds in order to reduce electricity use and carbon emissions by non-profit community groups.”
These funds are then allocated by CORENA to “practical renewable energy projects based on expert advice on the most effective use of funds, and report all expenditure.”
For Gawler Community House – which provides training, courses, an op shop, free recycled computers, and community lunches – the process had been a real community effort, said CORENA spokesperson Margaret Hender
“Gawler residents have been chipping in via donation jars at the Community House, the Transition Gawler group has been collecting funds at local events, and people all over Australia have been chipping in via CORENA’s website.”
The Gawler Community House energy project was CORENA’s second “Quick Win Project,” which called for community donations to install rooftop solar and energy efficiency measures. The project also received an additional $3,000 donated by the Gawler Lions Club.
Launching the project last Friday, SA Greens Senator Penny Wright said it was “inspiring” to see so many Australians taking a clean energy future into their own hands.
“The CORENA model is very exciting and has huge potential to grow all across Australia,” Wright said.
Steve Frinsdorf, CEO of the Community House, described the CORENA model as a win-win.
“The solar panels won’t cost us a cent, and once we have repaid the loan our reduced electricity bills will mean we have more money available to fund our community services,” Frinsdorf said.
The loan repayments will be recycled into similar future projects for other community organisations, said Hender – $2,000 of the money lent for the Gawler project itself came from loan repayments from an already completed solar project at a disability services centre in Bega, NSW.
“Eventually, repayments from completed projects will be sufficient to continue funding new community projects all over Australia without ever needing more donations.”