Farming the Sun is pleased to announce that it is investigating the feasibility of a community bulk-buy of high quality solar power and battery storage systems for the Northern Rivers region of NSW.
The Northern Rivers bulk-buy will be open to residents, businesses, councils and community organisations throughout the region. This will include those with existing solar power who want to expand the size of their system and possibly add storage, as well as for those who are installing solar power for the first time.
As a benchmark, Farming the Sun’s current bulk-buy in the New England region is realising discounts of up to 33% better than retail (see here for details).
A final decision on whether or not to proceed with the bulk-buy is subject to sufficient community interest. Farming the Sun is currently seeking Expressions of Interest from local solar installers with a view to selecting a specialist solar partner. Negotiations are also taking place with prospective community partners.
“Assuming there is sufficient interest from locally based solar installers and from residents and businesses in developing a community bulk buy, we anticipate that the program will launch sometime in late March or early April,” said Adam Blakester, Project Director.
“Without pre-empting any final decision on whether to proceed or not, any resident or business that is interested in expressing preliminary interest in the program is invited to express interest here.”
Farming the Sun has coordinated a series of six successful bulk buys programs which until now have been available in the New England region.
Locally, Farming the Sun has led the successful Lismore Community Solarfarms initiative, which is creating Australia’s first community-funded, council-operated solarfarms in collaboration with Lismore City Council. One of the two 100kW solarfarms will be the largest floating array yet installed in Australia.
For further details about Farming the Sun, including the current New England bulk-buys, see the website https://farmingthesun.net/.
Community Bulk-Buy Vision
This will be Farming the Sun’s seventh bulk-buy making Farming the Sun a leader among a much wider movement of bulk-buys by community energy groups and local councils around Australia.
The purpose of the Northern Rivers bulk-buy is to significantly increase the understanding, affordability and take-up of solar energy by making available a discounted bulk offering of truly high quality solar power and battery storage systems.
The principal target area for the bulk-buy is Lismore, Byron and Ballina local government areas. Proposals to cover more of the region are being considered.
The project goal is to install 1.7 MW of solar power systems based upon 1% of 44,000 residences in the principal target area (Ballina, Lismore, Byron shires), being 440 dwellings with an average 4kW solar power system. Take-up by businesses, councils and community organisations will be in addition to this goal.
The Northern Rivers solar bulk-buy is commencing at a time that coincides with several relevant developments:
- Significant successes for local, community and commercial renewable energy in the region, as well as energy efficiency gains and the successful community rejection of gas mining in northern NSW
- Electricity prices have been significantly increased (upwards of 10%) for the first time in several years
- Conclusion of the NSW Government Solar Bonus Scheme (feed-in-tariff) on 31 December 2016
- Small scale technology (renewable energy) certificates being phased out from 1 January 2017
- Preparedness for small-scale battery storage technology
- Growing community concerns about the environmental impacts of coal and gas mining (being the predominant fuel sources for electricity in NSW) on water, farming, biodiversity, climate and air quality
- Construction of large-scale wind and solar projects in nearby regions, which are some of the largest capital infrastructure projects in history.