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Margaret Hender

Email:
adminatcorenafund.org.au

Media Releases

June 4, 2015: Rolling Out Solar in the NFP Sector

Solar donors from all over Australia have today finished funding their 5th community solar project, a 10kW installation for the Nannup Community Resource Centre in WA.

One sector that has missed out on the solar PV boom over recent years is non-profit community organisations. Typically they pay high small business rates for grid electricity, so a quality solar installation sized to suit their on-site use can pay for itself in 4-5 years, and thereafter greatly reduces their operating expenses. However, the capital cost is prohibitive when organisations need to spend every cent on providing their core services.

To overcome this hurdle, CORENA (Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Australia Incorporated) funnels small donations from lots of people into interest-free solar loans. The recipient organisation uses the money to install solar and, where appropriate, for energy efficiency measures like LED lighting upgrades. The resultant savings in power bills are used to repay the loan, and the money is then used again and again in subsequent community solar projects elsewhere.

“Solar installers are invited to contact us if they have potential customers in the non-profit sector who need help with funding a solar installation,” said CORENA spokesperson Margaret Hender.

Donated money and revolving loan repayments previously paid for solar PV for Tulgeen Disability Services (Bega, NSW), Gawler Community House (SA), Beechworth Montessori School (Vic), and Camden Community Centre (SA). The completion of the Nannup project brings the total cost of projects funded by CORENA’s revolving funding scheme to $78,900. Future donations and loan repayments will now go towards a 5kW solar installation for the community centre in Ravenshoe (Qld).

“CORENA aims to speed up the transition to 100% renewable energy by enabling non-profit organisations to install solar PV,” said Ms Hender. “At the same time, we are empowering climate-concerned citizens by enabling them to take reduction of carbon emissions into their own hands through collectively funding solar projects.”

The CORENA website publishes panel and inverter details for each project, including costs and payback times, so that the public can see the cost-effectiveness of installing solar.

“CORENA works in the background to support the growth of solar no matter what happens politically,” said Perth solar donor Barb Frey. “And in doing so, CORENA provides a bit of education and awareness about solar to the communities involved, and hopefully thereby inspires wider adoption of solar in these communities.”

For more information about the CORENA funding model see https://corenafund.org.au/quick-win-projects/. To suggest future potential solar projects requiring help with funding, email admin@corenfund.org.au.
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bar chart June 4

pie June 4

April 20, 2015: Revolving Donations Fund 35kW of Community Solar PV

This week’s solar PV installation at Camden Park, SA, brings the total amount installed by CORENA’s Quick Win community solar projects so far to 35kW. Another 8kW has been added by recipient organisations in conjunction with these projects, giving an overall result of 43kW installed. Two of the projects have also included replacing lights with LED alternatives.

CORENA (Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Australia Incorporated) has now funded Quick Win projects for four non-profit organisations in three states: Tulgeen Disability Services in Bega (NSW), Gawler Community House (SA), Beechworth Montessori School (Vic), and Camden Community Centre (SA). The next project in line, in Nannup (WA), is already half-funded, and a community centre in Ravenshoe (Qld) is queued as Project 6.

“After just four projects the growth potential of our revolving funding model is looking quite exciting,” said CORENA spokesperson Margaret Hender. “The four projects completed so far have cost a total of $63,460. Climate-concerned citizens donated most of that, but $10,438 of it came from loan repayments from completed projects.”

CORENA provides interest-free loans to pay for solar installations and energy efficiency measures. The loans are repaid over about five years out of the resultant savings on power bills, meaning that non-profit organisations can reduce their carbon emissions without diverting funds from their core purpose. As the projects ‘pay for themselves’, the original donations are then used over and over again in new projects.

“The first project was funded entirely from donations, but already $5,000 of that loan has been paid back into the revolving pool of funds,” said Ms Hender. “As the number of completed projects increases, an increasing proportion of the cost of new projects is covered by loan repayments. Eventually the revolving loan repayments will cover 90%, or even 100%, of the cost of new projects.”

“Tulgeen Disability Group has added 3kW of additional SolarWorld panels to its existing 7kW system, which was purchased with support from CORENA,” said Tulgeen CEO Peter Gorton. “The system has met its goals, demonstrating savings in CO2 emissions and dollar savings. We are able to provide increased support and service diversity from our limited amount of funding, as we are wasting less on purchasing energy.”

“I could talk to politicians until I’m blue in the face in the hope of getting better renewable energy policies, and never know if I’ve had any effect,” said Ms Hender. “But if I put $100, or $10 a week, for example, into solar panels on a roof somewhere, within a matter of weeks my money will be reducing carbon emissions and keep on doing so forever as it is used again and again in future projects.”
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model QWP 3

Project 3: Beechworth Montessori School, Vic

Project 3: Beechworth Montessori School, Vic

February 23, 2015: Community Belonging and Citizen-Funded Solar

Camden Community Centre, which has as its motto “A sense of belonging”, is about to become the fourth solar project funded by the generosity of everyday citizens.

The community centre has already implemented energy efficiency measures to reduce their electricity consumption as part of a Green Steps program. CORENA funds will enable them to install rooftop solar to further reduce their carbon emissions.

The project will be funded by an interest-free loan of around $20,000 from CORENA (Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Australia Inc). People from all over Australia donate to CORENA’s revolving funds in order to enable non-profit community groups to install solar. The loans are repaid just out of the resultant savings on power bills, meaning that the solar installation will cost Camden Community Centre nothing.

The $13,000 already raised for the Camden project consists partly of loan repayments to CORENA’s revolving funds from previous projects, and partly from continuing contributions from CORENA supporters and the local community.

“All the loan repayments from the Camden project will be recycled into similar future projects for other community organisations elsewhere in Australia,” said Margaret Hender, CORENA Chairperson.

“When around 60 projects have been funded, repayments from completed projects will be sufficient to continue funding one new community project every month without ever needing more donations. Any amount contributed to the Camden solar project now will keep on reducing carbon emissions somewhere, forever.”

For information about how to contribute to solar for the Camden Community House, go to https://corenafund.org.au/.

September 19, 2014: CORENA and People's Climate March

Participants at the Australian events of the worldwide People’s Climate March have a chance to contribute to an ambitious citizen’s power project.

CORENA, a non-profit organisation run by volunteers, is leading a nationwide initiative using crowd-funding on Sept 20-21 to raise money for a citizen-owned solar thermal power plant.

Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Australia Inc (CORENA) has already identified one suitable site for a solar-thermal plant using molten salt storage as Port Augusta, SA. It is now looking at other potential sites around Australia.

A number of groups, including 350 Australia, Transition Town and other regional groups, and the Greens, are collaborating on this REAL Climate Action strategy. The aim is to make it a practical action that everyone can be part of. As the slogan goes, it will take everyone to bend the course of history.

The People’s Climate march being organised to coincide with UN climate meetings in New York has adopted the slogan ‘Action, not Words’, meaning asking governments worldwide to stop talking and take action. In Australia, there’ll be equal emphasis on what ‘the people’ can do themselves, since our government is currently not listening well. Accordingly, CORENA [https://corenafund.org.au/] has launched a strategy to make September 20-21 a day of REAL Climate Action [https://corenafund.org.au/september-21-day-of-real-climate-action/] in Australia.

CORENA chairperson Margaret Hender said Australians were increasingly taking a clean energy future into their own hands. “If everyone who goes to a rally or event on Sept 20-21 chips in $100, we could have $5 million towards a solar thermal power station.”

That would be enough to complete Stage One of the project.

“With the Federal Government’s dismantling of clean energy legislation, we’ve seen a huge growth in the number of people wanting to do whatever they can to reduce carbon emissions and move to sustainable and renewable energy,” Ms Hender said.

At events on the day there will be placards bearing a QR code to enable people in the crowds to chip in via smart phone, and speakers will give regular progress reports on the amount raised so far.

Those not going to a rally can chip in via the CORENA website [https://corenafund.org.au/bigwin/]

July 28, 2014: The Power of Community and Energy Security

On Friday 25 July, Senator Penny Wright, Australian Greens Senator for South Australia, opened a citizen-funded solar PV and energy efficiency project at the Gawler Community House.

The project was funded by an interest-free loan of $17,560 from CORENA (Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Australia Inc), with an additional $3,000 donated by the Gawler Lions Club. People from all over Australia donate to CORENA’s revolving funds in order to reduce electricity use and carbon emissions by non-profit community groups.

“I am very proud to support this amazing community project, which will provide such a huge benefit to the Gawler community and also the environment at large,” Senator Wright said. “It is so inspiring to see so many Australians taking a clean energy future into their own hands. The CORENA model is very exciting and has huge potential to grow all across Australia.”

“The process had been a real community effort”, CORENA spokesperson Margaret Hender said. “Gawler residents have been chipping in via donation jars at the Community House, the Transition Gawler group has been collecting funds at local events, and people all over Australia have been chipping in via CORENA’s website.”

“The project will pay for itself in less than 5 years,” said Rachel Brdanovic, from Down to Earth Sustainable Solutions, who has been assisting with the project. “Gawler Community House will be able to repay the loan just out of the savings on its power bills.”

This is a win-win model, according to Steve Frinsdorf, CEO of the Community House. “The solar panels won’t cost us a cent, and once we have repaid the loan our reduced electricity bills will mean we have more money available to fund our community services.”

“All the loan repayments will be recycled into similar future projects for other community organisations,” said Ms Hender. “In fact, $2,000 of the money CORENA has lent for the Gawler project comes from loan repayments from an already completed solar project at a disability services centre in Bega, NSW. Eventually, repayments from completed projects will be sufficient to continue funding new community projects all over Australia without ever needing more donations.”

Further information about how to donate to CORENA projects go to https://corenafund.org.au/.

May 30, 2014: The Power of Community

Gawler Community House hopes to soon have a 10kW solar installation and LED security lights, all funded by community generosity. Already over $15,000 has been raised towards this $20,000 project via a joint initiative of the Transition Gawler group and CORENA (Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Australia Inc).

“This is shaping up to be a real community effort,” said CORENA spokesperson Margaret Hender. “Gawler residents have been chipping in via donation jars at the Community House and local cafes, the Transition Gawler group has been collecting funds at local events, and people all over Australia have been chipping in via CORENA’s website.”

CORENA, a nationwide not-for-profit group that originated in Adelaide, will use the donated funds to give Gawler Community House a $20,000 interest-free loan. “The project will pay for itself in less than 5 years,” said Rachel Brdanovic, from Down to Earth Sustainable Solutions, who has been assisting with the project. “Gawler Community House will be able to repay the loan just out of the savings on its power bills.”

This is a win-win model, according to Steve Frinsdorf, CEO of the Community House. “The solar panels won’t cost us a cent, and once we have repaid the loan our reduced electricity bills will mean we have more money available to fund our community services.”

“All the loan repayments will be recycled into similar future projects for other community organisations,” said Ms Hender. “In fact, $2,000 of the money CORENA will be lending for the Gawler project comes from loan repayments from an already completed solar project at a disability services centre in Bega, NSW. Eventually, repayments from completed projects will be sufficient to continue funding new community projects all over Australia without ever needing more donations.”

Further information about the Gawler Community House project and how to donate to it is available at https://corenafund.org.au/.

November 26, 2013: CORENA's Renewable Energy Funding Mechanism Shows the Way Forward

At first glance there is nothing particularly unusual about the two high-quality solar PV systems being installed today on the roof of Tulgeen Disabilty Services at Spindler St in Bega, NSW. The Tulgeen cheese packaging facility, which employs people with disabilities, will have a 4kW system to supply 58% of its electricity usage, and 21% of the usage at the Training and Education Services day programs centre will be supplied by a 3kW system.

The novel thing is the funding mechanism. CORENA (Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Australia Inc.) has given Tulgeen an interest-free loan of $12,000, funded entirely by donations from citizens across Australia.

“CORENA provides a way forward for all those people who want action on climate change and a faster transition to renewable energy”, said Jonathan Maddox, a Springwood (NSW) supporter who donated to help fund the Tulgeen project.

Andrew Constance MP will be opening Tulgeen’s new Training and Education Services annex and the solar installations at 11:30am on Friday November 29.

“We will repay the no interest loan in three years from savings in our power bills, but the system will be generating electricity for 25 years”, said CEO Pete Gorton. “This translates into reduced costs for our clients and a greater range of services able to be offered by Tulgeen.”

“All the loan repayments from the Tulgeen project will be used to help fund the next project at another community-serving organisation, then another”, said CORENA spokesperson Margaret Hender. “Eventually, when we have funded around 120 such projects, repayments from earlier projects will be enough to continue funding one new project per month forever, without ever needing more donations.”

Further information about CORENA projects is available at https://corenafund.org.au/.

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July 21, 2013: People-Funded Solar PV for Tulgeen

Tulgeen Disability Services, on the far south coast of NSW, has already implemented a variety of energy efficiency measures to reduce their electricity consumption, and hope to install a 7 kW solar system on their roof in the near future. CORENA (Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Australia Incorporated) is currently seeking donations from the public to fund this project. CORENA will provide an interest-free loan of $12,000 to help pay for the solar panels, and Tulgeen Disability Services will pay back the loan out of the savings on their power bills.

“Once the loan is repaid, Tulgeen Disability Services will benefit from reduced energy costs, and from Day 1, the rest of us will all benefit from the reduction in carbon emissions”, said Margaret Hender, CORENA Chairperson. “As the loan is repaid, that money will be ‘recycled’ into other similar projects. But first CORENA needs to raise around $9,600 more in donations to reach the funding target for the Tulgeen project.”

“Tulgeen has exhaustively monitored and reviewed its current infrastructure, fittings, buildings and usage patterns”, said Peter Gorton, acting-CEO of Tulgeen Disability Services. “We have commenced an energy efficiency drive, and have also reviewed many of our daily processes and practices to reduce our electricity consumption. We are keen to install solar PV on the building used for Tulgeen Training & Education Services (TES), which provides day programmes and activities for up to 50 local people with disability. We anticipate that the new solar system will provide a significant portion of our daily usage, and ultimately save Tulgeen a considerable amount in electricity purchases.”

CORENA is a new not-for-profit organisation set up by a bunch of ordinary people who want to enable everyone who wants more renewable energy to get on with the job of funding it, rather than just waiting on government action. It is renewable energy funded by the people for the people, with all donations spent on funding practical renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

“The CORENA funding mechanism is crowd-funding with a twist”, said Ms Hender. “As soon as the Tulgeen loan starts to be repaid, that money will go straight into helping to fund a second project at another community-serving organisation somewhere else in Australia, then another, and another. By the time the public has funded around 120 similar projects, at a total cost of around $2.4 million, the repayments coming back into the fund from earlier projects will be sufficient to keep on funding an endless stream of similar solar and energy efficiency projects way into the future. All we need is one million people to make a one-off donation of $2.40, for example, or 100,000 people to donate $24 each.

“We rely entirely on donations from people – lots of people – all those people who are worried by climate change or by the health and environmental impacts of coal and gas. The CORENA mechanism gives everyone an extra way of taking practical and immediate action to speed up the transition to 100% renewable energy.”

Details about the Tulgeen project, and information on how to donate, are available at Tulgeen project.

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