Plans by a group of NSW local government councils to drive solar uptake in the southern Sydney region have been backed by US-based solar giant SunEdison, in a new partnership announced over the weekend.
The Southern Sydney Region of Councils (SSROC) and eight of its member Councils (Ashfield, Bankstown, Canada Bay, Canterbury, Kogarah, Leichhardt, Marrickville and Rockdale) revealed on Saturday that they would partner with Energy Matters, an Australia-based SunEdison Company, at the the official launch of the “Our Solar Future” initiative in Leichhardt on Saturday.
The new partnership will be facilitated by Positive Charge, a Melbourne-based community group that worked with Energy Matters on the Darebin Council Solar Saver program, resulting in almost 300 pensioner households installing solar in 2014.
The SSROC’s plan is to provide residents and small businesses in the region with ready access to cheaper PV systems – including through a solar leasing option – as well as to solar hot water and heat pumps.
The group of councils approached solar suppliers in December last year, asking for their best offers. The initiative’s ultimate goal is to have up to 30 per cent of the region’s energy needs generated by renewable sources.
Through the Our Solar Future website, residents are taken through a checklist to help them decide if a solar power system is right for their home or business, what size system they might need and approximately how much a system might cost.
They can then contact nominated suppliers directly or fill out a quotation request online that will be sent to a supplier.
The approach is not dissimilar to that taken by the City of Melbourne, which last month joined forces with other large energy users (including like-minded local governments and businesses) to launched a Request for Information Process, with the aim of “challenging the market” to supply the right renewable energy solutions at the right price.
Although the Melbourne experiment aims to stimulate the development of larger-scale energy projects, the idea of combining purchasing power to root out a competitive deal is along the same lines.
Similarly, a separate NSW local government initiative – this time a group of up to 32 regional councils accounting for two-thirds of the state’s area – is using its collective weight to help fund the installation of around half a megawatt of PV in various sites around their electorates.
The plan, called the Solar Energy eXchange Initiative – or the SEXI proposal – is to seek federal government funding of up to $200 million over five to six years to develop six solar projects, worth about $30 million each, and demonstrate five different solar technologies.
Sophie is editor of OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au and deputy editor of its sister site, RenewEconomy.com.au. Sophie has been writing about clean energy for more than a decade.