Lismore Community Solar is at the forefront of Australia’s nascent community energy movement and sector. It has created Australia’s first ever Council operated and community funded solarfarms.

The purpose of Lismore Community Solar was to create two 99kW solarfarms through a partnership between local community members and Lismore City Council ~ with funding provided by local community ‘impact’ investors and operation of the solarfarms by Lismore City Council.

The two solarfarms are flagship projects for Lismore City Council’s 2023 Renewable Energy Master Plan  addressing objectives outlined in the Imagine Lismore 10 Year Plan 2013-2023.

Aerial view of the solarfarm at Goonellabah Sports & Aquatic Centre.

These projects will further the Lismore’s community vision of being a model of sustainability, with outcomes across each of the three domains of sustainability: environmentally benign renewable energy from solar power; strengthened community leadership and capacity in sustainable energy; plus an innovative local finance model.

Lismore City Council is the first regional council in Australia to commit to making its electricity supply 100% renewable.

This ‘model of sustainability’ is aligned with the aspirations of many more local councils right across Australia who are pursuing ground-breaking strategies in renewable energy, climate neutrality, sustainability and collaboration with their communities.

As Australia’s first ever council operated and community funded solarfarms, Lismore Community Solar has created significant potential to leverage public profile as well as the leadership, enhanced capacity and engagement of the numerous people and partners involved.

Disclaimer: Lismore City Council (Council) is not in a financial partnership or joint venture with Starfish Initiatives, Farming the Sun or any other associated entity or organisation. Council’s role in this initiative is as borrower of funds and as the entity that owns and constructs the solar farms.

Find out more about the Solarfarm Business Model …

First community solarfarm for Lismore switches on!

The first of two Lismore Community Solarfarm projects is now up and running with the solar farm installed and generating energy on the roof of the Goonellabah Sports & Aquatic Centre.  Very exciting!

After several years of hard work between Farming the Sun, Lismore City Council, and a community committed to renewable energy, it is incredibly exciting to see this first solar farm now powering one of Lismore’s biggest facilities.

Local solar installer Rainbow Power Company was the successful tenderer (via the Council) and installer for the Goonellabah Sports & Aquatic Centre solar farm.  Well done Rainbow Power Company!

For more details see the current Farming the Sun newsletter here.


Lismore Community Solar fits within a broader strategic context of sustainability and renewable energy work right across the North Coast and Northern Rivers region ~ arguably the strongest region-wide focus on sustainable energy currently of anywhere in Australia.

While this work has been led by Sustain Northern Rivers (SNR) and the North Coast Energy Forum (NCEF) in recent years ~ both of who are project partners ~ the contemporary origins of this movement hark back to the historic 1973 Aquarius Festival, and the birth of Australia’s ‘hippy movement’, with the arrival of people living alternate lifestyles oriented around love for people, nature and life itself.

In recent years there have been numerous and considerable efforts to create community energy projects, including the current work on Enova Energy to create Australia’s first community-owned electricity retailer.

Lismore is located in the heart of Australia’s gas fields free movement too. This extraordinary, creative and powerful movement of people have together created history with Australia’s first ever withdrawal of a coal-seam-gas mining operation due to near universal community expression of their disagreement and lack of support. Talk about people power!

It is within this context, and the clear groundswell of community support for renewable energy, that Lismore Community Solar has arisen. There has been extensive work with local stakeholders over the past two years to establish community solarfarms ~ leading to two solarfarm project sites, and significant publicity and profile for these projects.

In recent years there have been numerous and considerable efforts to create community energy projects, including the current work on Enova Energy to create Australia’s first community-owned electricity retailer.

While Lismore Community Solar is clearly focussed on clean energy and ethical local investment, the projects are set against the stark backdrop of the Gas Fields Free movement and deep public concern regarding climate change, public health and the conservation and regeneration of nature and farming.


The solarfarm was installed in May 2017 by Rainbow Power Company – switching on solar power generation for Goonellabah Sports & Acquatic Centre. This facility is used by a wide cross-section of the community and provides ongoing opportunities for engagement and education about the project ~ particularly the benefits of community partnerships and renewable energy.


Expected to be installed in July 2017, a floating solar system will be installed by Suntrix. It is expected to be largest floating solar farm in Australia. It is an innovative solution to spatial constraints at the East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant. The overflow pond at the Plant provides a large body of water with low velocity, perfect for a floating solar farm. The cooling properties of water help the solar panels last longer and perform better, while increased shade over the pond reduces evaporation and algal growth.

Example of floating solarfarm – to be installed July 2017

East Lismore STP

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Proposed site - East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant

Proposed site – East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant

Goonellabah Sports & Aquatic Centre

Goonellabah Sports & Aquatic Centre

East Lismore STP Mock-up

East Lismore STP Mock-up

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