BUSINESSES, community organisations and other landowners tired of continual electricity price increases will soon be able to future-proof themselves by providing their roof for a community power project, if a pilot solar array in Buderim proves a success.

More than two years in the making, the Community Solar Sunshine Coast project will now go ahead after the organisation was notified on Wednesday that Sunshine Coast Council would provide kickstart funds.

Community Solar Sunshine Coast's pilot project in Buderim will use the roof of a not-for-profit organisation to establish a 100kw array of up to 400 solar panels, spokeswoman Leanne Hellmrich said.

WINNING: Leanne Hellmrich with Dean Ervik and Garry Claridge, of Community Solar Sunshine Coast, are celebrating the commencement of their group's first project.
WINNING: Leanne Hellmrich with Dean Ervik and Garry Claridge, of Community Solar Sunshine Coast, are celebrating the commencement of their group's first project. john mccutcheon

The host organisation will buy all of the electricity, which is a "fraction" of their entire energy needs, but would be cheaper and more stable than its current commercial retailer, Ms Hellmrich said.

The project will be funded by investors who buy a share in the rooftop solar system, with a return on investment of about 5-6% in the approximately 10-year duration of the project.

"In that time the shareholders will get their capital back and at the end of the project that site will be gifted the solar system," Ms Hellmrich said.

The investors will have made a profit and the host organisation will be left with a free power source, she said.

"Our project has been supported by Sunshine Coast Council very heavily and is at the process where if all goes to plan we are hoping to launch on July 29," she said.

While Ms Hellmrich said she couldn't reveal the funding amount or the host organisation until the paperwork was finalised, but said it was "very, very exciting" to finally be able to move the project forward. 

The entity that will establish the Buderim rooftop solar project will be a trading cooperative, with a structure that allows shareholders from the local community to invest, Mr Hellmrich said.

EXPLAINER: How solar power works

The council's grant will enable CSSC to set up this structure as a case study to be able to assist future projects.and start marketing so the capital can be raised.

"The council's really keen to help strengthen the community-owned energy sector," Ms Hellmrich said.

Ms Hellmrich works as a commercial solar energy consultant and said the project would have benefits for the Sunshine Coast's clean technology sector.

Tender criteria would include a requirement for the business to be local, so the project supported local jobs and fed money into the local community, she said.

To find out more about the CSSC click here. Find them on Facebook here.  

If you want to know more about what the Coast's 150 clean technology businesses are up to, click here or here



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