The Tathra Surf Club’s switch to renewable energy in 2006 received great support from the community of this town on the NSW south coast. The wind turbine and solar panels installed on the roof save the surf club nearly $1000 per year in energy costs, are a highly visible demonstration of how renewable energy works and save our atmosphere about three tonnes of CO2 each year.
The installation was part of the LifeSaving Energy campaign by Clean Energy for Eternity, a community group on the NSW south coast.
According to Matthew Nott, spokesperson for Clean Energy for Eternity, the project received a lot of positive feedback. “What this project has done is show people how easy it is to install renewable energy onto a rooftop. The technology is ready to go and the equipment was installed quickly and easily.”
In fact, the project went so well that Matthew started thinking of an ambitious campaign – to switch every surf club in Australia to renewable energy.
“It makes for a strong statement – 305 surf clubs in Australia set up with renewable energy,” says Matthew, “And I wonder how many surf clubs there are on the planet?”
Clean Energy For Eternity first plans to switch all seven surf clubs in south east NSW to renewables by the end of 2008, before going national with the LifeSaving Energy campaign.
To raise money for the project, Matthew’s team started the LifeSaving Energy Big Swim, a series of 7-kilometre swims around south east NSW. The first Big Swim across Lake Jindabyne raised $20,000, just enough to install 2kw solar panels and a 400w wind turbine on Jindabyne surf club.
More Big Swim fundraisers will be held throughout 2008 in NSW, each linked to one lucky surf club. A Big Swim in the Bega River is even raising money for a wind turbine for Tathra Primary School (“This 7-kilometre swim is on the June long weekend in water that may be as cold as 10 degrees!”)
And Matthew has much bigger ideas in the pipeline.
“I am looking forward to working with Surf Life Saving Australia to set up a national LifeSaving Energy Big Swim, with surf clubs in each state holding a Big Swim on the same day to raise money for surf clubs. That will have some impact.