Utility-scale solar offers the lowest cost solar power (and often lowest cost power) in the world. Rooftop solar power offers energy independence (or something close to it), and a core component of a no-pollution lifestyle. But there’s something in between that I think is still the most interesting and appealing type of solar power. Community solar power, projects of which are often called “solar gardens” or “community solar gardens,” offers a middle option. People who cannot put a solar power system on their roofs (or who just can’t get enough solar power) can invest in a community solar garden and reap some of the rewards.
Australia is a top solar power country in terms of rooftop solar power adoption, but even in Australia, many people do not have a roof to put solar panels on. The estimate is that almost 35% of the population is unable to install rooftop solar power. The news this week on this topic is that Australia is about to launch its largest community solar garden. The Haystacks Solar Garden is reportedly “offering 3 kW ‘solar plots’ to 333 ‘solar gardeners’ with a green thumb who don’t necessarily have the roofspace or option to install their own solar panels.”
An information session is happening tomorrow, 9 September, 5:30-6:30 pm, for Sydney Inner West residents.
The Haystacks Solar Garden will be 1 megawatt (MW) in capacity and located in the New South Wales (NSW) Riverina region. You have to first become a Haystacks Solar Garden co-op member — at a cost of $1 — to buy a “plot” of the solar garden. If you buy a plot, you will eventually get credits to your electricity bill.
The Haystacks Solar Garden is not the work of just one entity. Pingala, Community Power Agency, and Komo Energy partnered to launch this project and initiative. It is also supported by the NSW government’s Regional Community Energy Fund.