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. 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.

model QWP 3

“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.”