Farming the Sun NSW

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Title

Farming the Sun NSW

Website Frontpage

Description

Farming the Sun is Australia’s most diverse community solar energy initiative. It is a large-scale collaboration coordinated by Starfish Initiatives and in 2011 was awarded a NSW Government Green Globe Award for its contribution to sustainability.

More than 700 installations have been completed totaling some 2.5MW of solar power and nearly 150 solar hot water and solar thermal heating and cooling systems. We’ve also provided training for more than three dozen tradespeople and a huge amount of community awareness and education in sustainable energy.

Farming the Sun’s success proves the power of partnerships and collaboration. Together with the project partners, significant step-changes have been achieved in the take-up of solar energy technologies, reduced greenhouse emissions and regional economic benefits.

Farming the Sun is currently assessing potential new programs and projects. There are no current community solar offers at this time.

Managed/contributed to the following campaigns

Type of group

Initiative

Primary environmental focus

Renewable Energy

Geographic sphere or activity

State

Primary location

New South Wales

Website link/s

Founding Year

2008

History of group

Project History

The spark of inspiration for Farming the Sun was Jamie Reardon of AusEnergy. Jamie pitched an idea to Adam Blakester of Starfish about coordinating a group-buy of ‘a dozen or two residential solar power systems’.

The idea arose at the same time that Starfish was mid-way through a large and participatory strategic planning process called the New England Sustainability Strategy, which identified the need for a ‘new energy future’.

Following discussions with a wide range of New England organisations, residents, businesses and stakeholders it became clear that their interest was far and above a mere two dozen solar power systems.

Instead, Farming the Sun launched in 2008 with the goal of reaching 1% of the residents of the Southern New England High Country ~ comprising the Uralla, Walcha, Guyra and Armidale Dumaresq local government areas.

Over the next two years there were 479 systems installed (552kW of solar power, 137 solar hot water systems, 12 solar heating/cooling units) with a retail value of more than $6.7m. The project also included 140 Home Sustainability Assessments and organised training and accreditation for more than three-dozen tradespeople (electricians, plumbers and installers).

This project took one further step for sustainability, which was to sponsor an inspiring ‘treefrog’ regeneration project to also offset the carbon footprint of the project ~ covering transportation, installation, internet usage and the net embedded energy of the solar panels and balance of systems.

In 2012 Farming the Sun shifted its focus to developing community solarfarms. This was made possible through a strategic alliance with Embark Australia, drawing upon their considerable expertise in community solar models.

This work is being successfully concluded with the creation of Australia’s first ever council operated and community funded solarfarms ~ Lismore Community Solarfarms in partnership with Lismore City Council.

While Farming the Sun originally began in and focused on the New England High Country, it then expanded to the NSW North Coast and Hunter Central Coast regions as well.

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