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The following sections include: 

  • A table that compares these models by key elements 
  • More detailed explanations of each of these models (click links below)
  • A decision tree diagram to help you decide which model would work best for your community (click here to open). 

Based on this contextual analysis, five models of community solar that will work in the current context are showcased here. These models are: 

  • Repower Shoalhaven (also known as The Difference Incubator model) – This small-scale community solarfarm model uses a proprietary limited company Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) legal structure to enable up to 50 community members to co-invest in a project. REPower Shoalhaven is a successful example of this model. 
  • ClearSky Solar Investments (CSSI) model - CSSI is effectively a peer-to-peer lending broker. An end user is identified who wants to benefit from solar power but, for whatever reason, does not want to make a capital purchase. ClearSky investors lend the money and have their capital repaid with interest via by selling the electricity generated by the system at an agreed price over an agreed term. At the end of the term the panels become the property of the end-user. 
  • Embark/Sydney Renewable Power Company (SRPC) model - Embark's mid-sized community solarfarm model uses an unlisted public company legal structure to enable medium-to-large numbers of community members to co-invest in a project. 
  • CORENA’s Donation Revolving Fund model – Donation-based models such as CORENA’s use voluntary contributions of any amount from citizens to provide a zero interest loan to install solar PV on and undertaken energy efficiency at a community organisation’s building. The loan repayments are used to fund even more community energy projects. 
  • Darebin Solar Savers (Moreland Energy Foundation Ltd) low-income rates model – this model supporting solar PV uptake in the residential sector, particularly households that cannot afford to put solar on their roof through upfront payments. It does this through utilisation of Council rates scheme to support financing and a community organisation providing trusted brokering. 

 

Model

SRPC 

REPower 

CSSI 

CORENA 

Solar Savers 

Aims

Allowing many people to participate in a community solar project. 

Develop community energy projects local people can benefit from. 

People without a suitable roof get the benefits of solar PV. 

Increase uptake of renewables, see benefits go to good organisations. 

Low income household access to solar PV. 

Legal structure

Public company 

Special purpose vehicle (SPV), could be pty ltd or trust. 

Trust and NFP Association 

NFP Association 

Must include a statutory body e.g. a council as a partner 

Where the money comes from

More than 20/50 investor limit 

<20 investors per year/project 

Max 50 investors/project 

Projects have between 1 and 20 investors 

Any number of donations, plus the loan repayments from other solar PV installations 

Debt carried by council 

Where the money goes

Return to investors 

Return to investors 

Return to investors 

Reduced power bills to host site. To fund other solar PV installations 

Reduced power bills. 

To repay debt to council 

Size

>400kW 

<100kW 

15-100kW 

~5-10kWs 

Many 1-3kW systems 

Legal relationship with host

Likely loan, not PPA 

Lease/Loan/PPAs 

None. Loan from Trust to a commercial partner 

Loan 

Rates based repayment mechanism 

Project period

25 yrs 

7-10 yr term 

7-10 yrs 

5years loan is repaid 

10 yrs 

Best locations (un-shaded)

Large energy using site, likely in an urban area. Shopping centers could be good

Sites with high insolation and high electricity retail prices where electricity used 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year 

Sites with high insolation and high electricity retail prices where electricity used 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year 

The building of an organization that is “doing good/charitable work”. 

Residences and small buildings