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30 January 2021: Expanded project range for climate fund’s interest-free loans

Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Australia (CORENA) has expanded the range of eligible projects for which they offer interest-free loans to not-for-profit organisations for the purpose of reducing their carbon emissions. 

In addition to rooftop solar installations and energy efficiency measures, CORENA will now also assist non-profits to reduce their emissions by replacing gas appliances with efficient electric alternatives, and by replacing fossil fuel vehicles with EVs. 

CORENA, founded in 2013 and run almost entirely by volunteers, operates Australia’s longest running donor-driven revolving fund for practical climate action. Anyone can donate via the CORENA website to collectively fund the loans for these projects. These donations are then returned to the revolving fund in the form of loan repayments, and these repayments are then used again, in conjunction with new donations, to fund future emissions reduction projects.

CORENA has an impressive track record of practical climate action by funding projects which would otherwise not happen. To date $808,615 in interest-free loans has financed a total of 42 climate projects, with fundraising underway to provide an interest-free loan to a 43rd project. Collectively these projects have avoided an estimated 1,822.5 MWh of grid electricity.

Applications for new loans are very welcome. Anyone can nominate not-for-profit organisations to receive an interest-free loan to reduce their carbon emissions, plus anyone can make a donation, via the CORENA website https://corenafund.org.au/

The savings resulting from projects will usually repay the loan in 4 to 6 years, and from that point onward the organisation begins reaping the financial benefits. But everyone benefits immediately from the reduction in carbon emissions.

CORENA’s Chair, Briony O’Shea, was excited to announce the new project criteria, “previously CORENA focused on solar installations and energy efficiency measures” she said. “However, recognising the climate impact of emissions from fossil gas and the transport sector, we now also offer interest-free loans to replace gas appliances with efficient electric alternatives as well as replacing fossil fueled vehicles with electric vehicles”.

Some of the 42 projects that CORENA has previously provided interest-free loans for include:

  1. Gawler Community House, South Australia
    • 10 Kw rooftop solar installation and replacing inefficient lighting with energy efficiency LEDs (installed 2014)
    • The $17,560 loan was repaid in 3 years, with that money being used repeatedly in subsequent project loans. To date that money has paid for carbon reduction measures costing a total of $64,755
    • Has avoided a total of 102 MWh of grid electricity to date at Gawler Community House and subsequent projects
    • See https://corenafund.org.au/2-gawler/
  1. Yackandandah Health, Victoria
    • Replacing inefficient lighting with energy efficient LEDs (installed 2016)
    • The $20,000 loan was repaid in 4 years, with that money being used repeatedly in subsequent project loans. To date that money has paid for carbon reduction measures costing a total of $49,697
    • Has avoided 74 MWh of grid electricity to date
    • See https://corenafund.org.au/12-yack-health/
  1. Tarremah Steiner School, Tasmania 
    • 100 KW rooftop solar installation (installed 2020)
    • Has avoided 64.6 MWh of grid electricity to date
    • The $70,000 loan is expected to be repaid in just over 4  years and that money will then be used repeatedly in subsequent project loans to pay for further carbon reduction measures
    • See https://corenafund.org.au/39-tarremah/

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Photos of projects are available on request from media@corenafund.org.au.

Solar panels on Op Shop roof supply 3 Community House buldings
Gawler Community House
Yackandandah Health
Tarremah Steiner School

11 December 2020: The sun shines brightly in Walpole, WA

The Walpole Community Resource Centre (CRC) in southern Western Australia will soon have a shiny new 80-panel rooftop solar installation, thanks in part to people from across Australia donating funds to allow the provision of an interest-free loan to the centre to install solar.

Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Australia (CORENA) will be providing the interest-free loan for more than two thirds of the cost of the $17,530 installation, with the CRC covering the remaining cost from their own funds. The savings resulting from the installation will repay the loan in just over four years.

CORENA operates Australia’s longest running donor-driven revolving fund for practical climate action. The fund offers interest-free loans to not-for-profits to invest in projects to reduce carbon emissions. Citizens who want to reduce emissions make donations via the CORENA website to collectively fund the loans for these projects. These donations are then returned to the fund in the form of loan repayments, and these funds, plus additional donations, are then used again for future projects.

To date CORENA has provided more than $704,000 in interest-free loans, and Walpole CRC will be the 42nd project to receive a loan. People can nominate other not-for-profits to receive a future interest free loan by contacting CORENA.

CORENA’s project manager, Adam Karl, said “the solar panels will be installed as soon as fundraising is complete.” Mr Karl states that“unlike most crowd funding exercises that need to raise funds from scratch, CORENA’s revolving fund means that projects are typically half funded by the loan repayments from previous projects, and only partly by new donations.” He adds that“this speeds up the fundraising process enormously.”

In addition to reducing carbon emissions, the 26.4 Kw grid-connected solar system will lead to significant savings on the centre’s electricity bill by reducing reliance on expensive grid electricity.

These savings can then be spent on providing essential services to the ageing population of Walpole, which relies heavily on support services from the CRC.

Cherie Smith, General Manager of the Walpole CRC said “the solar will be a godsend to our community group.” Explaining the benefits, Ms Smith adds “it’s not only because of the savings on electricity costs, but that we will be able to afford to actually use the electricity for heating and air-conditioning. Currently some customers and volunteers don’t want to spend much time here because it’s too cold or hot. Thank you CORENA and South Coast Environmental Group for your dedication and generosity.”

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