This report provides an introduction to community-owned renewable energy. It includes Australian and international examples to show that this is a growing and important sector.
The paper focuses on an exciting financial model called community co-ownership and shows how it could be promoted in Tasmania by three simple policy reforms.
Community co-ownership is a corporate structure in which a commercial developer of a large renewable energy project such as a wind farm sells a percentage share to a community-owned energy company. The model is being implemented at the largest wind-farm in NSW, the $588 million Sapphire Wind Farm.
The benefit of the co-ownership model is that it makes it easy for community members to invest in Australia’s clean energy transition. The developer takes on business challenges and financial risk on behalf of the community company, which is generally an operation staffed by volunteers and lacks the resources to manage and finance a complex infrastructure development.
Over the next decade, Tasmania could well see a few very large wind farms (100MW plus) built. Co-ownership provides the best opportunity for communities to become involved in this important sector. It could deliver financial value directly to the community and promote the social licence of wind energy and facilitate improved energy and climate policy.
The paper concludes with some policy ideas which could promote the community coownership model for wind farms in Tasmania and apply to other large-scale renewables projects.