Frontier Energy is creating a toolkit that is set to make community energy projects easier to develop, supported by $296,000 funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
The $493,000 project aims to break down some of the barriers facing new community energy projects by increasing project developers’ understanding of how to secure finance.
“While the community renewable energy sector in Australia is growing, there remains a large gap in information on financing,” ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said.
“The new financial toolkit will provide easily accessible information on financier requirements, financial models, checklists and case studies through a central website, along with a list of key contacts.
“Spending less money on external advice, particularly in the early stages of development, will make projects cheaper overall.
“Ultimately, the resources aim to reduce the duplication of efforts, lowering project development costs and making community renewables projects more viable.”
Frontier said the new financial toolkit will provide easily accessible information on financier requirements, financial models, checklists and case studies through the Embark community energy Wiki, along with a list of key contacts, with the toolkit encompassing small utility-scale projects (up to 20 MW), small-scale projects (e.g. up to 1 MW) as well as distributed/aggregated community renewable Energy projects.
Jennifer Lauber Patterson, MD Frontier Energy, said there was currently a large gap in existing information available for community energy groups around the financing requirements of projects. The financial toolkit is seen as a valuable resource to fill this gap and assist in the development and delivery of community energy projects. It will provide a centralised, simplified, and accessible repository of information to support the financing of community energy projects.
"This will reduce the duplication of efforts, leading to a reduction in project development costs and making community renewables projects more competitive, benefitting Australian communities," she said.
Ms Lauber Patterson said there toolkit could boost also predict hybrid systems and bio-energy generation.
"Technologies are now commercially viable to able to turn waste streams into energy production andgrow bio-energy – these opportunities can create significant job creation and energy cost reductionfor regional Australia," she said.
"The financial tool-kit is designed to help more community projects get off the ground and secure the financing they require.”
The project is being supported by a steering group including the Australian Renewable Energy Association (ARENA), the NSW Government, Coalition for Community Energy (C4CE) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).
Taryn Lane of Embark and C4CE stated “We are very pleased to participate in this project that we believe will materially benefit communities seeking to develop energy projects. Community energy enterprises have so many potential benefits, but they are hard to develop in the current market and regulatory context. We need more initiatives like this that help address barriers and make it easier for communities to benefit from local energy enterprises.”
In the coming months, Frontier Energy will consult with a range of key stakeholders in the development of the toolkit including commonwealth and state governments and key community energy groups.
The toolkit is scheduled for release in early 2016.