CEFE was one of 17 organisations across the state to be awarded a prestigious Green Globe award at a ceremony in Sydney on Thursday October 15. Green Globes recognise excellence in initiatives to promote sustainability and protect the environment. The CEFE award, which was shared with Bega Valley Shire Council was in the category Excellence in Leadership and Innovation, sub-category Leadership in Climate Change.
Here is the citation:
This project, a partnership between the council and a local community group, Clean Energy for Eternity (CEFE), is Australia’s first community solar farm.
A 30 kilowatts ground-mounted solar installation, arrayed to form the word ‘IMAGINE’ can be clearly seen by passing flights. The energy generated by the panels offsets electricity used by the Tathra sewerage treatment plant and the savings are placed into a fund managed by CEFE for future community projects. This approach not only ensures that these projects are efficient and well-targeted, but maintains a clear community connection and engagement throughout the solar farm’s lifetime.
CEFE and BVSC has signd an MOU which will ensure that the the ‘value’ of the donated panels, in the form of electricity payments that BVSC no longer needs to pay for grid power to supply the treatment plant will be returned to CEFE to fund further community solar projects in the shire. The Tathra Community Solar Farm is the first project where CEFE has collaborated with BVSCj but is ust the most recent of many many initiatives that CEFE has undertaken entirely on its own or in collaboration with the Tathra Enduro, to equip surf clubs, pre-schools, RFS shed, community halls and churches since 2007.
At the official opening of the new Tathra RFS shed on , the head of the South Coast RFS John Cullen announced CEFE’s intention to get all 200 Rural Fire Sheds in SE NSW set up with renewable energy by 2020.
It is hoped that money generated from solar panels installed on fire sheds will be donated towards further installations. With recent changes to the NSW Feed-In-Tariff legislation, there is considerable uncertainty about the project, but one way or another CEFE will work with the RFS to achieve its goal.
Jason Lewington, senior deputy captain with the Tathra Fire Brigade (left), and firefighter Max Cook, had a closer look at the recently installed solar panels on the Tathra fire shed. The 2kw system was paid for by the bulk-buy deal and the CEFE Big River Swims.
Representatives from Clean Energy For Eternity, Tathra Mountain Bike Club and NGH Environmental, along with excited community members, celebrate the solar panel installation on Tathra?s Green Shed.
IT WAS a rare grey morning yesterday, but the sun is definitely shining on Tathra.
With solar panels now installed on the iconic ‘Green Shed’, the small seaside town can now lay claim to having every community building powered by the sun – all through the efforts of a region determined to make a difference.
Founder of Clean Energy For Eternity Matthew Nott celebrated the achievement yesterday with similarly elated members of the community.
“What this demonstrates is that Tathra is a community that wants to show leadership on climate change,” Dr Nott said yesterday.
“What we want to achieve is to show other regional towns that a community working together can achieve community-based solution to climate change. We want to inspire other communities and towns around Australia to get off their bums and do something.
“People can get frustrated with the politics of it all, so we are getting on with doing it. We’re not sitting around waiting for politicians to do it for us,” he said.
The campaign for a clean energy future began in Tathra in 2006 when more than 3000 people took part in a human sign spelling out Clean Energy For Eternity on the beach.
A year later, solar panels and a wind turbine were installed on the Tathra Surf Life Saving Club in the first of the organisation’s community projects.
Now due to a partnership between CEFE and the Tathra Mountain Bike Club, all eight community buildings in the town will benefit from both reduced power bills and the knowledge users will be doing their bit against climate change.
Along with the Green Shed, solar installations now adorn the surf club, Tathra Pre-school, Rural Fire Service shed, Tathra Hall, Uniting Church, Star of the Sea Catholic Church and St Martin By The Sea Anglican Church.
Funds for the installations have come predominantly through the major annual fundraiser the Tathra Enduro, hosted by the Tathra MTB Club.
Support from throughout the community has been ongoing, including at yesterday’s announcement.
“Pyramid Power has been great, doing all the installations for us,” Dr Nott said.
“NGH Environmental has been very supportive of the campaign right from the start as well.
“We’ve also had great support from Energy Options, who have been sponsors of the Enduro, as well as the Tathra caravan parks, Beach House Apartments and local businesses.”
Dr Nott said the cost of installing solar is becoming more affordable by the day.
The Tathra SLSC installation six years ago cost in the order of $20,000; the Green Shed’s less than $4000.
“We were hoping the overly generous feed-in tariffs on our first projects would help generate funds for further installations,” Dr Nott said.
“Now with no feed-in tariffs it reduces the benefits, but it also reduces the power bills for all these community groups for their daytime usage of the buildings.
“Solar is so cheap you can’t afford not to have it,” he said.
The next big project for Dr Nott and CEFE is a plan to build the biggest solar farm in the South-East – potentially the biggest community solar farm in the country.
More details will come to light if and when council approval is gained.