Renewable energy profits from boost in investment

People are putting their money where their mouth is and jumping on opportunities to invest in renewable energy. Community-owned projects are selling out within minutes of being released.

Projects like the Lismore Community Solar Farm involve local communities coming together to invest in, and then benefit from, renewable energy.

This model allows people to invest in projects which are bigger than what they can do individually.

Community energy is on the rise as small scale investors look to put their money into something they believe in. These people typically have modest sums to invest and modest return expectations.

But most community energy projects provide a return of up to 7 per cent - substantially better than leaving your money in a bank. While the individual amounts are modest, they add up.

So far members have invested $24 million in community energy projects across Australia. And as well as healthy financial returns, these projects also build community and of course reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Lismore Community Solar Farm is a joint project between Lismore council and the local community.  Two 99kW solar farms - enough to power 50 homes - on council facilities have been funded through a community loan to the council. 

Other renewable energy projects are following suit. Wind company CWP recently announced they are exploring options that would enable the community to invest directly into their 270MW wind farm near Glenn Innes in the New England Region of NSW.

The message is clear. Local communities have a lot to gain from being co-owners and co-investors in renewable energy.

Jarra Hicks is co-founding director of Community Power Agency.