ARENA backs "solar gardens" trial, in bid to boost access to PV

Mindy Sparks
May 17, 2018

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will provide a grant of $240,000 to the $555,000 project, created to assess demand and possible constraints for "solar gardens" development.

ARENA said on Thursday that it was providing $240,000 towards a feasibility study of the viability of setting up solar gardens in five locations around Australia, across three states.

A solar garden is a centralised solar array that offers consumers the opportunity to purchase or lease solar panels with the electricity generated credited to the customer's energy bill.

"Almost a third of Australians are unable to put solar on their roofs because they are renting, live in apartments or live in low income housing".

"While over 1.8 million households now enjoy the benefits of cheap solar power, unfortunately not every household owns a sunny roof suitable for solar panels", said ISF Research Associate and Director of Community Power Agency Nicky Ison.

And while more and more innovative schemes are being rolled out to try to combat this problem - including from SunTenants, Enova, AGL Energy and ShineHub - there is plenty more work to be done.

Solar gardens to bring rooftop solar to all Australians
ARENA backs “solar gardens” trial, in bid to boost access to PV

The trials will be carried out in Blacktown, Shoalhaven, and Byron Bay in NSW; in Townsville in Queensland, and Swan Hill in Victoria, with around $550,000 provided in funding from ARENA and other participants.

As part of the initiative, ARENA will trial projects that could lead to new avenues for developing system services technology - which were traditionally performed by coal and gas-fired power plants.

According to ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht, demonstrating that clean energy sources can stabilise fluctuations in frequency and voltage could help open the door to more renewables capacity additions to the grid.

In the USA, solar gardens are the fastest-growing segment in the solar industry, contributing 200 megawatts of new capacity in 2016.

"We are trialing solar gardens with the aim of helping renters, low-income households and those living in apartments save on their energy bills", says Dr. Liz Develin the NSW Department of Planning and Environment's deputy secretary of energy, water, and portfolio strategy.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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