2. Gawler

Workers installing solar panels on Gawler Community House roof

Project 2: Gawler Community House, SA

Solar panels on Op Shop roof supply 3 Community House buldings
Solar panels on Op Shop roof supply 3 Community House buldings

Gawler Community House Inc. has over 60 volunteers and provides a wide range of services and courses for the wider community, including community lunches and provision of free recycled computers.

Website: http://www.gawlercommunityhouse.org/

Project story…

In July 2014 the community house used a $17,560 CORENA loan to install a 10kW solar system and replace nearby energy-guzzling public lighting with LED alternatives. This project proceeded with the approval of Gawler Town Council, the owners of the premises.

Highlights: A matching $5,000 donation from Embark to assist our fundraising; community engagement assistance from Transition Gawler; ‘above and beyond’ technical assistance from Rachel and Tom Brdanovic; part-funding of the LED lighting by the local Lions Club; a very happy opening ceremony attended by local MPs.

The matching donation came with an interesting twist. Rather than simply matching donations $ for $, in order to receive the $5,000 we were challenged to reach 1,000 new donors, even if they only chipped in $1 each. Some did literally donate $1, but quite a few donated more, and some of them went on to make extremely generous donations to subsequent projects months or even years later.

We expected this project would pay for itself in 4.5 years, but the savings on electricity bills were greater than expected. The community centre voluntarily decided to compare electricity costs with previous bills and repay us the difference rather than the quarterly amount obligated by the CORENA loan agreement. This meant that they fully repaid their loan in less than 3 years and have since enjoyed spending subsequent savings on services to the community.

See what has been achieved via the CORENA loan to Gawler Community House so far

* The MWh figure is the amount of grid electricity avoided by solar electricity generation and energy efficiency measures. The resultant reductions in carbon emissions can be visualised as an equivalent number of average households switching from grid electricity to 100% renewable electricity, noting that the subsequent projects have been avoiding grid electricity for less time than the original project.

This project has been fully funded- Thank you!

You can monitor what your contribution is achieving at any time via this online monitor display. How cool is that!

Progress bar showing fully funded via $15,560 in new donations and $2,000 in loan repayments

Honour roll

Thanks to all the people who have donated to this project.

Status: Funded project – loan fully repaid
Loan amount: $17,560
Loan repayments: Agreed amount was $1,000/qtr, but they decided to repay the entire amount they saved on their electricity bills each quarter rather than the set amount.

Loan repayments table - loan fully repaid

Work details

10kW solar PV:
– 1 x SolarEdge SE10k-AUS
– 40 x SolarEdge Power Optimizers
– 40 x Yingli YGE YL250P-29P panels
– Clenergy framing
– Siemens PV1-F cable
– Kraus & Naimer DC Isolators
Replacement of 5 halogen security lights with LEDs and light sensors
Solar PV – $15,600
Input-output meter – $680 (paid by GCH)
LED lighting – LED lights + installation = $980 each. CORENA’s loan paid for 2 of them ($1,960), and GCH and Gawler Lions paid for the other 3. The light sensors were donated by Down to Earth Sustainable Solutions.
Total cost – $21,380
Expected savings:
Solar PV – 15,200kWh/yr, $3,500/yr
LED lighting – 3600kWh/yr, $1,000/yr

Reduction in carbon emissions/yr: Equivalent to 3.39 average households using renewable electricity instead of grid electricity

Special thanks to Embark Australia for their $5,000 matching donation for this project.


Thanks to Tom and Rachel of Down to Earth Sustainable Solutions (predecessor to Tandem Energy). They provide environmental and energy efficiency services in SA, and generously volunteered their time to assess requirements, seek quotes, and organise work details for this solar and energy efficiency project.

Signing the loan agreement

Solar panel stars
GCH thank you letter, 4/7/14