Community energy is about people

Keeping profits & Energy sources local

Almost everyone in Australia requires an energy provider. Enova is disrupting the industry by focusing on supporting local communities to generate, use and profit from their own energy supplies.

Community energy is all about:

  • Community ownership and investment
  • Locally-sourced energy supplies
  • Moving towards 100% renewable energy sources
  • Empowering people to invest in their own communities & projects they believe in

It's about people taking back the power.

There's a lot to understand about community energy. Let's start with some of the basics.


What is Community Energy?

 

Community energy offers local ways for ensuring that everyday people can access the full benefits of the renewable energy revolution that is already underway in towns and regions across Australia.

While there is no universal definition of community energy, the Local Power Plan defines it as: 'where a community develops, owns or benefits from a renewable energy project.'

When communities are involved in renewable energy projects, they deliver economical, social and community benefits locally.

We’ve also borrowed this more detailed description of community energy from the Community Power Agency:

“community energy involves a community coming together to initiate, develop, operate, own and/or benefit from a renewable energy or energy efficiency project. Projects vary by technology, size, structure, governance and funding options. They grow from the diverse needs and available resources of a local community (or community of interest) and might be anything from solar panels on a school roof, to a small wind farm on the edge of town, to a micro-hydro system owned by two nearby townships.”

So, you can see that some important keys to community energy are:

  • Participation of people in the local community or community of interest
  • Ownership of the initiative by members of the community
  • Distribution of the energy and/or financial benefits from the project to participating members
  • Local governance structure.

 

Community energy aims to:

  1. Enable the local community to own their own renewable energy generation, storage and/or sharing technologies.
  2. Move communities towards 100% renewable energy sources
  3. Strengthen local economies by ensuring energy money stays circulating locally
  4. Empower people to invest in their own communities & projects
Conversely, the traditional energy sector is typically dominated by centralised corporate providers which generate power, distribute it to the end-user along inefficient poles and wires, and collect profits for their shareholders. With 75 per cent of grid-sourced energy in Australia still coming from fossil fuels, this outdated model contributes to climate change. And, it sucks up to several hundreds of millions of dollars a year out of local economies in energy bills.

By generating, storing and sharing energy locally in innovative local community energy structures, communities can turn this around and strengthen their local economy, create local energy resilience and create local sustainable jobs.

What's the difference between community energy and traditional energy, and what are the benefits? Here's what makes community energy stand out.

 

Keeping profits local


By funding community energy, money spent in the area stays in the area. 50% of Enova's profits are delivered into local investments, such as projects to build solar gardens, and small scale energy solutions such as microgrids. The big energy retailers just aren't set up to invest in small local projects.

 

Local projects and jobs


Community energy is about focusing efforts locally. When investment is retained in the community, it means community-owned renewable energy projects, education programs and other community projects receive focus and investment. In turn, this keeps investment and jobs local.

 

Minimising transport


The traditional model of the energy system involves large scale generation plants, long-distance transmission and distribution. By generating and distributing energy locally, we minimise the distance that energy travels (both in and out). This reduces the loss of power when transported over a long distance.

 

Empowerment

 

Enova Energy believes in building an energy-conscious community that shares common goals. By working with the community to generate, distribute and invest in power generated locally, we empower individual communities to keep profits & jobs within their region, create an energy supply model that benefits all socio-economic groups and produce energy locally to meet local needs. It's a win-win.

There are several players in the community energy sector. Here's how Enova plays a part.

 

Facilitate the retail function

 

Enova isn't the physical producer or distributor of energy - our role is to enable customers to buy and sell energy. Enova consists of a holding company, which holds Energy Retail & Technology Advisory plus the Not for Profit, Enova Community. Energy Retail and Technology empowers customers to buy and sell energy within their own community.

 

Receive and distribute solar excesses from customers

 

As mentioned above, Energy Retail and Technology facilitates not only purchase, but solar energy sales from customers. That is, we buy excess solar energy from our customers and allow other customers to purchase it. We are currently in the process of setting up a community battery to trial a new way of trading energy.

 

Deliver profits to local communities

 

Half of Enova's profits (after tax and investments) will be reinvested into community projects. This helps money, projects and jobs stay in local communities rather than being sent to centralised organisations. That's what Enova's about.

 

Purchase additional energy requirements

 

Sometimes an energy consumer is unable to have solar panels on their roof, for a variety of reasons. Additionally, not all solar customers are able to generate sufficient energy to power their own homes. Enova helps by facilitating the buying and selling of energy for customers, including from non-solar projects when this isn't an option.

 

Education

 

Today's world is craving genuine ideas about what we can all do to address the climate crisis. We need real solutions. A big part of Enova's role in community energy is bridging the gap between what we know, and what we don't know. We want to help people understand the problems and the solutions available.

 

 

If you're keen to learn more about community energy, we encourage you to check out one (or all!) of the following resources. It's a growing movement, one we're proud to be part of, and there are lots to learn.

 

  • Coalition for Community Energy (C4CE)

C4CE is the peak body for the growing community energy sector in Australia. Their mission is to support and facilitate the sector, by delivering advocacy and lobbying, knowledge sharing and the Community Energy Congress.

  • Community Power Agency (CPA)

The Community Power Agency partners with communities, government and industry to develop projects and research designed to create a clean, affordable and accessible energy future for everyone.


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