Household solar energy has previously only been available to those who own their own homes and can put it on their roof.
Unlocking the benefits of solar power for the 30 per cent of Australian consumers currently excluded from owning renewable energy is now feasible and could knock hundeds of dollars off the annual cost of electricity, according to new research led by the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) and Community Power Agency.
A solar garden is a centralised solar power station that offers households the opportunity to purchase or buy a share of panels, with the electricity generated credited on their electricity bill.
The ARENA and NSW Government funded Social Access Solar Gardens Project found that this new model of delivering solar is possible and that many customers are interested.
“Some households simply cannot put solar on their roof – it may be shady, they don’t own their house, or there might not be enough space” says Community Power Agency’s Nicky Ison.
“If you can put solar on your roof, you should - but if you can’t, then a solar garden is a great alternative,” Ms Ison says.
Jay Rutovitz, Project Director from the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures says: “Governments have a long track-record of supporting household solar, from federal rebates to feed-in tariffs, to the current schemes in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
“If similar support was provided to Solar Gardens customers they would see average bill savings of between $290 and $370 every year,” Ms Rutovitz says.
More than 20 partners in Queensland, NSW and VIC were involved in the Social Access Solar Gardens Project, including local councils, community energy groups, and electricity retailers.
Four of the five project teams are actively developing pilot Solar Gardens initiatives due to the research project.
The full report and guidance documents to assist new solar garden projects are available for download on the UTS website.