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ARENA provides funding to seed 'solar gardens' for apartment dwellers, renters

17 May 2018

The policy provides for a comprehensive framework to promote large grid-connected wind-solar photovoltaic (PV) hybrid system for optional and efficient utilisation of transmission infrastructure and land, thereby reducing the variability in renewable power generation and achieving better grid stability, the ministry of new and renewable energy said in a release.

NSW Minister for Energy and Utilities Don Harwin said: "We're excited to be supporting the Social Access Solar Gardens trials because we know that local renewable energy can help consumers save money on their energy bills".

"We are trialling solar gardens with the aim of helping renters, low-income households and those living in apartments save on their energy bills", said Dr Liz Develin, the NSW Department of Planning and Environment's deputy secretary of energy, water and portfolio strategy.

According to data from the 2017 national Census, there are nine council areas in greater Sydney, alone, where more than half of residents are "locked out" of solar.

And while more and more innovative schemes are being rolled out to try to combat this problem - including from SunTenants, Enova, AGL Energy and ShineHub - there is plenty more work to be done.

The study aims to consider both consumer demand and feasibility, and identify barriers to adoption.

On behalf of the Australian Government, ARENA is providing $240,000 to the University of Technology Sydney's Institute of Sustainable Futures (ISF) to undertake a feasibility study on "solar gardens", a popular concept in the United States that is yet to be introduced in Australia.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said initiatives such as this were an important step in giving Australian consumers more options for reining in their energy bills.

In the U.S., solar gardens are the fastest-growing segment in the solar industry, contributing 200 megawatts of new capacity in 2016.

Solar gardens give those without rooftop capacity the ability to take part in solar power generation.

The ministry said that "Solar and wind power being variable in nature pose certain challenges on grid security and stability and therefore suitable policy interventions are required not only for new wind-solar hybrid plants, but also for encouraging hybridisation of existing plants".

ARENA provides funding to seed 'solar gardens' for apartment dwellers, renters