Australia: Community solar goes live

04. December 2012 | Markets & Trends, Global PV markets, Applications & Installations | By:  Jonathan Gifford

Crowdfunded or community photovoltaic installations are becoming a growing trend around the world. The latest, by a non-profit group in the Australian city of Melbourne, has launched a 740 kW community solar roof.

Melbourne markets building with rooftop solar installation.

The South Melbourne markets could soon be the location for Australia's first large scale community solar project.

A community solar project on the roof of the South Melbourne Market building, in the Victorian state capital in south eastern Australia, hopes to attract investment to install 3,000 photovoltaic panels on the recently renovated roof of the building. The project is called LIVE Community Power and is being organized by a non-profit climate change initiative called LIVE.

While all the details of the project have not been ironed out, the initial plan is for 1,000 shares of AUD$1,000 (US$1,047) to be sold to investors. Currently a feasibility study is being carried out into the viability of the scheme by the local council, which owns the building. The council is in the process of installing a new roof, and as a part of the renovation will install a 37 kW.

The group hopes to attract investors who live in rented accommodation or have roofs that are unsuitable for solar, but would like to invest in a project.

The LIVE Community Power group hopes to complete the project in 2013 and the plan is to then take the cooperative business model onto other roofs. The group is currently seeking input from interested parties and anyone with experience in this type of investment.

There are community funded wind projects in Australia, including the Hepburn Wind farm, which raised AUD$13.5 million. The LIVE Community Power project would be the first community solar in the country.

There are various community funded solar initiatives in the U.K. and the U.S. and solar startup Solar Mosaic is currently waiting for SEC approval to be able to roll out its full for-profit crowdfunded solar service.

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