Australia’s first “solar garden,” a 35kW communal solar PV array in Lismore, New South Wales, has been completed and is delivering energy savings to 19 social housing tenants, four community organisations and North Coast Community Housing.
Enova Community Energy said on Thursday that the PV system had been installed on the rooftop of North Coast Community Housing to generate cheap solar power for “solar gardeners,” or households that could not access it themselves.
Enova, the local community owned retailer which has also pioneered the systems and processes used to distribute the benefits of the solar garden – in this case, in the form of energy bill credits – says the completion of the Lismore project is a key milestone on the path to building resilient communities.
It is also a precursor to the company’s plans to deliver a commercial, community-owned solar garden, which solar gardeners could buy into, in the coming six months.
“Creating the first behind the meter solar garden in this country truly marks a turning point,” Enova CEO Felicity Stening said in a statement. “This is taking local, distributed renewable energy rightback to where it belongs: with the people in communities.”
In the case of the NCCH project, the garden used a social model, fully funded by project partners, to demonstrate how solar gardens can be used to extend the benefits of renewable energy to low-income households.
“Hosting this solar garden generates real and immediate impacts,” said North Coast Community Housing CEO John McKenna in comments on Thursday.
“Financial relief for tenants and funds that NCCH would otherwise have spent on electricity bills, recirculated back into our work.”
Enova says it expects around $160,000 to flow back through the community from the solar garden, rather than being spent on electricity bills.
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