Shares in one of Australia’s first community-funded solar projects – a 500kW installation at the new International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) – will soon be offered to the public, as part of a deal signed between the project’s developers, property giant Lend Lease and not-for-profit advisory group Embark.
The $1 million project was first unveiled in 2012, with the goal – relatively new to Australia– of being entirely owned by members of the local community, who would be able to purchase shares equivalent to around 1kW each, and obtain returns of around 5-7 per cent per annum.
Now, with construction on the Lend Lease-owned site well underway, a public offering of shares in what is now called the Sydney Renewable Power Company is slated to take place in late 2015; the target for first power generation is December 2016.
According to the Sydney Renewable website, a limited amount of shares will be offered in an unlisted public company, with the target return revised down to 4-5 per cent per annum.
Revenues will mainly be based on output of panels over a 25 year contract, while secondary revenue will be generated through marketing renewable energy offsets or certificates.
Canadian Solar has also been announced as supplier and builder of the 520kW PV installation system, which once switched on will produce an estimated 5 per cent of the energy requirements for the new convention centre facilities.
Andy Cavanagh-Downs – a director of Embark energy and director of the Sydney Renewable Power Company – says the project aims to show that energy developments can happen in a ‘bottom up’, community-driven way, rather than a ‘top down’ way.
“We think that operating energy projects on a smaller scale provides a lot of benefits”, said Cavanagh-Downs in a statement on Tuesday.
“This scale means that energy projects can be distributed geographically and more readily able to use the untapped energy resources around us. An installation of this size is perfect for the community to rally around.
“Inviting the community to fund these projects also gives people an opportunity to invest in a way that balances their interests for a financial return with their desire to act responsibly and make a meaningful difference.”