Enova supports first-of-its kind community-owned Solar Garden
The Haystacks Solar Garden will pioneer a new way for the 35 per cent of energy users locked out of solar, to access renewable energy in Australia. This will be the first solar garden of its kind in Australia, allowing people without a suitable rooftop to receive the financial benefits of solar panels.
Enova Energy has been confirmed as the retail partner in the Haystacks Solar Garden.
The Haystacks Solar Garden is an exciting partnership initiative that will allow 333 people who can’t have roof top solar to participate in the clean energy revolution!
For everyone who wants solar on their roof but can't because they're a renter, live in an apartment or don't have an appropriate sunny roof - this project provides a solution.
As the project's energy retail partner, Enova will ensure that all the solar gardeners - who are members of the solar garden and owners of a plot in the garden - receive a credit on their Enova electricity bill for the solar energy generated by their plot.
It's a creative way of allowing people who can't have solar panels, to own panels in a solar array and get the financial benefits, as well as being part of the renewable energy transition.
How will it work?
Haystacks is unique in a number of ways.
- It is owned by a specially formed co-operative
- People who want solar, but can't have solar panels, can join the co-op
- Co-op members will be invited to purchase a plot in the solar garden
- Credits from the solar generated by their plot will be allocated directly onto their electricity bills through their participation in the Solar Garden.
Where is the Haystacks Solar Garden?
The Haystacks Solar Garden will be in the form of a solar farm located on a property in Grong Grong in the Riverina region of New South Wales.
Who are the project partners?
The partnership project involves:
- Community renewables group Pingala
- Experts in community-led energy projects Community Power Agency
- Solar developer Komo Energy
- Grong Grong farmer and landowner Gemma and Reiner Meier
Enova Energy is the partner enabling the solar bill credits through its customer systems.
In December 2019 Enova Community Energy unveiled the first small-scale solar garden in partnership with North Coast Community Housing (NCCH) and COREM which enabled solar credits to be applied to the electricity bills of NCCH social housing tenants. This model is a social access solar garden, giving benefits to social housing tenants.
The Haystacks Solar Garden is different: it's a co-operative model where the members of the co-op own the solar garden. It’s Australia’s first large-scale solar garden, which will apply solar credits directly onto solar gardeners’ electricity bills. The solar gardeners are the owners of plots in the solar garden and the credits they receive are for the solar energy generated by their plot.
This project was first initiated three years ago in discussions with a Riverina farmer who wanted to do something more for community, the climate, and with the land.
“As farmers we know first hand the challenges facing primary producers in the Riverina, any opportunity to diversify farm revenue streams builds resilience into our business”
“We already grow breakfast oats, bread wheat, malted barley and a decent steak for our city counterparts, why not add solar energy into the mix so they can boil their kettle, toast their bread, heat the pan and chill their beer with clean energy that we have harvested for them?”
- Gemma Meier, Landowner & Farmer
What is a Solar Garden
A solar garden is like a community garden, but instead of growing veggies, members get to make their own electricity. Essentially, a solar farm is built, households can purchase a “plot” of the solar farm and the electricity generated from their virtual plot is provided as a discount on their electricity bill.
Solar gardens are popular overseas, however they have not yet taken off in Australia. Haystacks brings the right organisations, people and resources together with funding to create a model that works in the Australian context.
With roof top solar becoming more and more popular, it doesn't make sense for the 35 per cent of households without a sunny rooftop, to miss out on solar benefits. This, with the need to achieve a decarbonised economy, and a desire to allow more people to participate in the renewables revolution, are the driving factors for creating the Haystacks Solar Garden.
More good things about Solar Gardens!
- No need to worry about the hassles of installation, arranging quotes or maintenance, these are handled by the Haystacks Co-op.
- Portable solar: by being a solar gardener, Co-op members take their solar credits with them if they move house - provided they stay with Enova.
- They generate local renewable energy from the sun and distribute it locally. That means reduced bills and boosted local economies!
Haystacks Solar Garden is now accepting membership applications from anybody interested in becoming a solar gardener! You can find out more or join Haystacks as a member, by going straight to the Haystacks webpage.
- The Haystacks Solar Garden project is supported by a grant from the NSW Government’s Regional Community Energy Fund.
- To participate in the Haystacks Solar Garden, you will need to join the Co-op, and register to purchase a solar plot. The plots are three kilowatts and are estimated to cost between $4,000 and $4,200.
- Haystacks is seeking 400 members by the end of November and will have 333 solar plots available for purchase by members.
- The members and solar plot owners will be the co-operative owners of the Haystacks Solar garden. It's a community-owned renewable energy initiative.
- When you purchase a solar plot you will need to switch your electricity account to Enova so that we can credit your energy bill with the solar that your plot is generating.
- For this first project we are limited to residents of NSW, however we hope to expand in the future.