Community solar developer Komo Energy is looking to accelerate the deployment of community-owned solar projects in Australia, launching a crowd equity investment offer to fund the company’s expansion.
The crowd equity offering has been launched through the Birchal platform, with Komo Energy seeking expressions of interest from potential investors as the company looks to increase its engagement with community energy projects, offering specialised expertise in project development.
Komo Energy was founded by Jonathan Prendergast and Gerald Arends, who are both drawing upon their previous experience in the development of solar power projects for commercial developers to support the establishment of new medium-scale projects that are suitable for community ownership.
Komo Energy offers project development and management expertise to community groups and initiatives looking to establish new community owned energy projects, helping to break down some of the logistical and technical barriers that emerge when trying to build a solar farm.
Often the development of a solar project can raise complex regulatory and technical questions that can be a barrier for inexperienced community groups, but Komo is looking to address that by offering a dedicated team that assists groups in navigating these complexities.
Through the crowd investment offering, Komo is seeking initial expressions of interest from potential investors and would use this sounding process to assess a potential investment target.
Komo’s co-founders told RenewEconomy that the company would be able to scale up its operations in line with the amount of investment interest received, and the higher the equity raised, the more the company would be able to grow the pipeline of new community projects.
The company would look to serve as a specialised project developer for community owned projects, with Komo receiving a development fee for projects that ultimately become owned by a collective of individuals or community groups.
The Community Energy for Goulburn dispatchable solar and battery project and the Grong Grong solar farm being developed as part of the Haystacks solar garden initiative have both received support from Komo Energy to get the projects off the ground, and the company hopes that the investment round will allow Komo to dramatically expand the pipeline of community energy projects in Australia.
Co-founder Gerald Arends told RenewEconomy that the pipeline for community energy projects could grow more than 100 projects a year. Currently, the complexity of such projects makes it very difficult for community groups, which may lack the necessary expertise to manage a medium-scale solar development, has meant the supply of new community solar projects has lagged demand.
“We strongly believe there is untapped potential in growing our emerging mid-scale renewable energy market,” Arends said. “Internationally, this is the market segment that has been relatively resilient against boom and bust cycles and ensured the establishment of vibrant renewable energy industries.”
“Rooftop solar and large-scale renewable projects are thriving. We have the opportunity to create a people-driven mid-scale renewable energy ecosystem. Our investors will accelerate the growth of this market by providing critical support to new renewable energy projects.”
Komo Energy co-founder Jonathan Prendergast said that there was a big market for new community energy projects, noting the large number of households and small businesses that are currently locked out of the solar market, including those who are renting, or occupy buildings that are not suitable for solar installations.
“Not everyone can put solar on their roof or invest in a battery. By opening Komo Energy to public investment, we hope to give everyone the opportunity to take part in shaping Australia’s renewable energy future in a meaningful way,” Prendergast said.
Mid-scale renewable energy projects are critical to driving the momentum towards a net-zero future. They enable more people to take positive climate action and are the building blocks to resilient, low-cost and renewable local energy systems.”
Komo’s crowd equity offering follows a number of other community energy enterprises that have turned to crowd investment platforms to secure funds to expand their operations. CSIRO off-shoot Evergen raised $6.22 million in a crowd investment round to fund the company’s commercialisation of smart solar and battery software.
Community owned electricity retailer Indigo Power, which is looking to establish a number of community power hubs across regional Victoria, successfully raised $300,000 to fund the first stage of its expansion in April.