The launch of the first solar garden has unlocked the benefits of rooftop solar for social housing tenants. It also has the capacity to provide a working model on how to distribute the benefits of renewable energy to everyone in society including those who are renting or don’t have the ability to install solar themselves.
Enova Community Energy has led this Australian-first innovation in collaboration with North Coast Community Housing (NCCH), COREM and Splendour in the Grass.
The 35-kilowatt solar garden consists of 100 solar panels and is situated on the rooftop of NCCH in Lismore.
The financial benefits are being distributed in the form of energy bill credits to 19 social housing tenants, four community organisations and NCCH.
Over its 20-year life span the project will save approximately $160,000 for the solar gardeners and NCCH in the form of a monthly or quarterly credit on their Enova electricity bill.
NCCH John McKenna said that this solar garden enables social tenants to take advantage of solar energy in a way they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to do so.
‘Hosting this solar garden generates real and immediate impacts,’ said Mr McKenna.
‘Financial relief for tenants and funds that NCCH would otherwise have spent on electricity bills, recirculated back into our work.
Enova CEO, Felicity Stening, said that this project provides evidence to solidify the concept that will inform future solar gardens.
‘We’ll be working in partnership with community housing organisations throughout the country to deliver more solar gardens, strengthen communities and provide solar access to those locked out,’ said Ms Stening.
‘Creating the first behind the meter solar garden in this country truly marks a turning point; this is taking local, distributed renewable energy right back to where it belongs: with the people in communities.’
Parallel to this development, in the coming six months Enova aims to deliver a commercial and community-owned solar garden which solar gardeners can buy into.
Enova Community Energy is calling on interested social housing and community organisations with suitable rooftops and the capacity to partner in renewable energy projects, to get in touch to take this solar garden model to more communities and more organisations.