People everywhere care about climate change and want to be part of the solution. Community owned renewable energy cuts pollution, creates local jobs, lowers powers prices and gives people control over their energy future.
AN UNTAPPED RESOURCE
Community-owned renewable energy is already powering many parts of the world. The global wind power industry was born in Denmark out of farming communities coming together to develop and invest in local sources of renewable energy. Similarly in Germany, many rural villages jointly own small run-of-the-river hydro systems or bio-energy. In the United States, apartment dwellers without roof space invest in solar panels installed in parks and on community buildings.
Australia has examples of successful community owned renewable energy projects, and there is a track-record of community-owned infrastructure in other sectors (e.g. dairy farming, irrigation), but the enormous potential for communities to come together and take charge of their own energy production has barely been tapped.
Community-owned renewable energy allows farmers, city residents and local communities to invest in clean energy with benefits such as:
- Sustainable regional development, with local jobs and profits staying in the area.
- Greater community participation in the project – improving agreement about site installations.
- Access for groups (especially renters for example) that are unable to benefit from their own renewable energy.
- Community support for renewable energy through direct involvement, experience and ownership.
- Reduced greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollution.
UNLEASHING COMMUNITY ENERGY
The Australian Greens will help overcome a range of barriers by creating a $100 million Australian Community Renewable Energy Program.
Our Community Renewable Energy Program will:
- Help local groups access specialist expertise in the early stages of a community energy project, from feasibility studies to project management;
- Help communities find finance for their project and negotiate power purchasing agreements to make sure their energy is used.
This seed-funding program will open up the opportunity for hundreds of thousands of Australians to own and benefit from a wide range of renewable energy opportunities – from rural areas with good wind resources to community solar parks for inner-city renters.
The program will allocate $100 million over five years from 1 July 2014 to the existing Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to run a competitive tender program supporting the development of community-owned renewable energy projects through feasibility grants, project management and specialist expertise to a point where they have a solid business model and are ready for community investment.
Once community groups demonstrate that their project is feasible, ARENA could work cooperatively with the existing Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to assist them to source concessional finance. Both ARENA and the CEFC would be able to assist individual proposals as well as clusters of community renewable energy projects.
Neither of the old parties is prepared to commit to facilitating the development of a thriving community renewable energy sector.
The Coalition in particular has created significant uncertainty for clean energy investors.
Tony Abbott claims to support the Renewable Energy Target but refuses to answer the crucial question: will the Coalition support the current RET for 41,000 gigawatt hours of clean energy by 2020?
Further, the Coalition has stated that they want to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and dishonour the contracts it signs with investors.
THE GREENS’ 100% CLEAN ENERGY ROADMAP
The Greens' are the only party with a plan to get to a 100% renewable Australia. We know that much more must be done to encourage clean energy investment in Australia. Read our full Roadmap here.