ARENA-backed project brings ‘solar gardens’ to Australia

Image Credit: Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)

The University of Technology Sydney’s Institute of Sustainable Futures (ISF) will undertake a feasibility study to examine the viability of introducing ‘solar gardens’ in Australia.

A solar garden is a centralised solar array that provides consumers with the opportunity to purchase or lease solar panels with the electricity generated credited to the customer’s energy bill.

Already popular in the United States, the concept provides an innovative solution to accessing renewable energy for those who are unable to place solar on their homes.

The $555,000 project, which is backed with $240,000 in funding by ARENA, aims to consider both consumer demand and feasibility, and identify barriers to adoption.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the study could allow the millions of Australians who rent, live in apartments or live in low income housing to access the benefits of rooftop solar.

“Almost a third of Australians are unable to put solar on their roofs because they are renting, live in apartments or live in low income housing. Solar gardens give consumers the benefits of rooftop solar, even if you don’t have a roof available to put it on,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“We’re excited to be supporting the feasibility into a concept that will allow people from all backgrounds and living circumstances to benefit from renewable energy.”

NSW Minister for Energy and Utilities Don Harwin said the project will examine the viability of a solar garden in five potential locations across the country, including at Byron Bay in NSW.

“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,” he continued.

“These trials will help renters, and people in apartments and low-income households who are currently missing out on the benefits of rooftop solar to share in the renewable energy boom currently underway in [NSW].”

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