SE Solar Farm

The CEFE SE NSW Solar Farm Story


A solar farm has long been a vision for Clean Energy For Eternity.
There are very good reasons for a solar farm to complement individual roof top installations. A solar farm provides;
•    more emissions reduction bang for your taxpayer buck
•    power of collective action
•    signals community’s commitment
•    opportunity for smart grid research

Promise of $100,000 funding for a feasibility study for the CEFE solar farm was made by Mike Kelly during the 2007 election campaign. In the last days before the 2007 election the ALP upped the ante and offered $1 million to establish the solar farm, should the feasibility study indicate that it was viable.

In 2007 the ALP won government.

Clean Energy For Eternity got in touch with the Canberra bureaucrats to see what we needed to do to access the promised $100,000. We put together a very impressive team of experts. The majority were consultants working in the renewable sector. We also had an accountant/fund manager, a lawyer, a marketing expert and a number of academic correspondents working in solar power.  They came from Canberra, the South East and Sydney.

We came up with a model which could use the $1 million to kick start a program that would see community solar farms rolled out across the country.  This work was written up in the feasibility study along with the numbers to show it would work. We submitted and waited.

We were told at the time that because the NSW feed-in tariff had not been announced, and because we hadn’t established that the federal government Solar Credits (RECS) would apply to a solar farm, we had to wait until both matters had been resolved.

In the end both schemes would only apply to panels on your own roof, not to a solar farm. That was a blow.

The Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) nonetheless kept the door open for us. They gave us a further six months to come up with a different model, one that did not rely on the two government subsidy schemes.  But we still had to come up with a million dollars of our own before we would get the government million.

The team reassembled. We looked for local government and commercial partners. In the end Eurobodalla was prepared to commit $650,000 for panels at their water plant and Mosman $350,000 for panels on its various buildings plus the Balmoral water project. That was enough to match the federal government $1 million.

With heavy hearts we rewrote our application. We had hoped for direct community participation, not participation via the local government.  We had hoped for a roll over model, not a one off. But at least we would have a solar farm in the South East.

Our application was submitted in early June, well before the deadline. DEWHA informed us we could expect a decision by late July

On July 20 the election was called. We continue to wait. So far the process has taken three years.

Whatever the new government decides to do with our application, CEFE will fight on to get community renewable energy established in Australia.

Sometimes communities have to provide the leadership.  Above all persistence is required. We will persist

Warren Yates
Clean Energy For Eternity Mosman
Solar Farm team

Bega community solar farm – looking for land

Clean Energy for Eternity (CEFE) has embarked on an exciting new project to bring a 1-2MW community solar farm into being in the Bega Valley.

There is a natural synergy between “the city and the bush” in Australia when it comes to community power. Urban communities are generally more wealthy but short on space, while rural communities have abundant land but often need investment to help manage the dual pressures of changing rainfall patterns and increasingly competitive global markets for agriculture. This project is a practical partnership between the Bega and Mosman chapters of CEFE.

A comprehensive feasibility study for the solar farm is underway with a $100,000 grant from the Federal government’s Green Precincts Program. The feasibility study, due by the end of March, will assess the most effective technology, design and business case for getting the farm built and provide a replicable model for other interested communities.

Existing examples of solar farms (see photos from Spain, USA and South Australia) show that ‘off-the-shelf’ technology for producing significant amounts of renewable energy for our region is already available.

Key limiting factors for turning this idea into reality are access to suitable solar farm sites and supportive government policies on a national feed in tariff that would ensure the solar farm is commercially viable not just a philanthropic exercise.

Four local landowners have already offered land, currently being assessed for suitability by the project team. More sites are needed for the feasibility study. Other landowners in the Bega district are warmly invited to participate by offering land for site consideration.

Andrew Bond, co Project Manager for the study said “Given the multiple factors that need to be checked for each site, it’s good planning and risk management at this early stage to have a variety of suitable sites to consider. A combination of technical and business factors will be involved when the most suitable site is finally chosen.”

If you would like to know more about this opportunity, please contact Philippa Rowland, Public Officer, Clean Energy for Eternity – Tel/Fax 02-6492 4858  Mobile 0429-828412
Email [email protected]

Solar farm update 17/4/09

On Monday 30th April, the Solar Farm team, ably led by our Project
Managers Andrew Bond and Deborah Burt, successfully completed and
submitted two documents to the Federal Department of Water, Environment,
Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) (copies attached FYI):

1. a Draft Feasibility Study for a Community Solar Farm in Bega Valley Shire; and
2. an Application to the Green Precincts Program seeking funds for a joint Bega – Mosman Renewable Energy and Water Conservation Project.

We will know the results of our funding application on 15th May 2009,
when the Federal Minister announces ten successful Green Precincts

Between now and 15th May, the solar farm team proposes to continue work
on several fronts:

*  developing an Action Plan that sets out the steps in the lead-up to
the funding outcome and beyond into the actual planning and
implementation of the solar farm funding and construction
*  further developing the structure of the proposed management company,
and clarifying its relationship with CEFE as the parent organisation
behind the project
*  gathering proposals for membership of the board and other team
members to deliver to a successful conclusion (ie eventual construction
of the first community solar farm)
* finalising site visits and assessments against the detailed criteria
developed in the feasibility study.

Over the next few weeks we will also be generating a simple English
background summary of the Solar Farm Project that can be used to inform
the community about our progress. Given the substantial level of
interest likely to arise if our funding bid is successful, we will also
be developing a media strategy with assistance from CEFE’s media
advisor (Ron Krueger from Manly CEFE).

Look forward very much to getting back to you with some exciting news in
teh near future.
Kind Regards,

Philippa Rowland
Public Officer, Clean Energy for Eternity

CEFE appoints solar farm project manager

Wednesday 5th November 2008 marked a watershed for Clean Energy for Eternity. It was the day we ran our second successful Renewable Energy Forum. Importantly, it was also the day that the new Director of the Federal government’s Green Precincts Program personally drove down to Bega with a contract for $100,000 that Matthew Nott and I signed on behalf of CEFE in front of a Channel 7 camera. An intensive voluntary effort has been underway for nearly twelve months, but that formal signing signalled the beginning of the feasibility study into our community solar farm.

Two weeks later, four highly competent and enthusiastic candidates were interviewed for the position on Project Manager by CEFE representatives from Bega, Bermagui and Mosman and Mark Canaider from Bega Valley Shire Council. In a surprising twist, we have appointed not one but TWO project managers – effectively ‘walking the talk’ of urban-rural partnerships by choosing one local candidate from Tanja and one from Sydney, both highly professional and with great complementary skills.

Andrew Bond brings with him a wealth of experience in natural resource management, from national parks and wildlife and the rural fire service through to designing and managing country projects on sustainability for the World Bank.

Deborah Burt has extensive background in human resource management and finance, most recently for Zurich Financial Services Australia. Working together, before Christmas these Project Managers will run an internal workshop for those involved in the Solar Farm project. This workshop will help plan out the busy work schedule ahead for paid staff and volunteers alike, as we have all committed to getting the feasibility study successfully completed by early April in order to be in the running for a further $1million from the Federal Government.

Bach Consulting from Sydney made a remarkable bid for the Project Manager position. CEFE will gratefully take up Julian Fairfield’s generous offer of to allow us to use their intellectually rigorous project proposal with due recognition.

Watch this space as Clean Energy for Eternity rapidly makes the transition from talking about renewable energy to putting it in place. Contact Philippa if you’d lile to know more about the project and how to get involved.

Philippa Rowland
Public Officer, Clean Energy for Eternity
675 Angledale Road
, Bega NSW 2550
Tel/Fax 02-6492 4858   Mobile 0429-828412
Email [email protected]

Thanks a million

Federal Member for Eden-Monato Mike Kelly has announced the Federal Government will fund a scoping study up to $100 000 for a solar farm in the Bega Valley area.

Mr Kelly, on behalf of the Minister for Climate Change and Water and Penny Wong and Minister for Environment Peter Garrett, announced the funding in a presentation on the government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme at the climate change forum in Bega on Wednesday night (5/11/08).

:I am proud to announce the government has acted on another election promise and will fund a feasibility study into a solar farm in Eden-Monaro, and I hope this will be a first step in getting a solar farm on the South Coast” Mr Kelly said.

The funding comes from the Federal Government’s Green Precincts Fund which supports local communities to better manage water and energy use for current and future generations.

“Before the election I made a cmmitment that the government would fund a feasibility study with the aim of establishing a 1-2 megawatt solar farm on the South Coast”, Mr Kelly said.

“A solar farm here could provide enough energy to power 1000 homes and provide a working example of green energy working for a regional community

“Clean Energy For Eternity has been working with me to make this project happen and it is great news the government is putting $100 000 towards the feasibility of a solar farm in the Bega Valley.

“Should the project go ahead, the government will consider up to an additional $1 million in matching funds to support the construction of the solar farm.”

Mr Kelly also said he would continue to work hard with a number of community projects to reduce carbon pollution and increase the renewable energy use in the region.

Bega District News

Progress on Community Solar Farm

CEFE is a step closer to making the first community partnered solar farm a reality. Contracts are being drawn up with the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, which runs the Green Precincts Program that is funding our feasibility study.

Click here see a brief background document on the solar farm proposal

Solar Farms for SE NSW

Clean Energy For Eternity are pretty busy in April. We have the Narooma LifeSaving Energy Big Swim on 20/4, which is looking like being a pretty huge event. We are planning more swims in the near future, and we have a public meeting coming up at the Tathra Community Hall on 17/4. With everything else going on, this would probably be the right time to discuss the April Tathra meeting.

The primary reason for the meeting will be to discuss solar farms in SE NSW. There will be several other items on the agenda, but more on that closer to the meeting.

The objective for the meeting will be to establish a community-working group to look at the feasibility of a community owned solar farm. Mike Kelly will be talking about what sort of support we can expect from the Federal Government.

What is a solar farm?

Well, that’s pretty much up in the air at the moment. What I’m envisaging is a 2MW, 20-hectare field of production line solar photovoltaic cells. The other option is solar thermal generation, where solar reflectors concentrate sunlight to generate steam to turn a turbine, to make electricity. All these numbers are very ballpark, but I reckon we are looking at a cost of around 10 million. That’s a lot of money. How on earth are we going to achieve that?

We have a funding commitment from the Federal Government of up to $1 million. I reckon the State government should match that offer. At best, that leaves $8 million.
We have a CEFE group in Mosman that is committed to off setting their communities carbon footprint by investing in solar farms in our part of the world. Maybe we have to find another $7 million. Talk about hard work. I know that Mike Kelly has been talking to the ANU about using our region as a sort of test bed for new solar technology. That could allow us to tap into some funding options. Still a long way to go to get to $10 million. A community owned power station might well turn out to be a viable investment opportunity. That is what will clinch the deal.

That is why we need to get a community group of smart people together to look at outside the square ways of making this work. We need to decide what sort of solar technology we are going to look at, we need to make sure that a solar farm is the best investment for a community owned power station. Would it be more cost effective to invest in wind or biomass generation? These sorts of issues are going to have to be sorted out very soon if we are going to make this work.

That is why we are having a meeting in Tathra on 17/4. I am hopeful that we will be able to attract interested people from right across the region. There will a couple of other items on the agenda, and a few surprises.

Matthew Nott

Clean Energy for Eternity

Click this image to open the flier

A community meeting will be held at the Tathra Community Hall on 17April at 6:30pm

The meeting will be chaired by Mayor Tony Allen.
Talking will be Mike Kelly, Matthew Nott and Steve Garrett from Pyramid Power.

On the agenda will be:
– A community owned solar farm for the South Coast
– Setting 50/50 by 2020 for the entire electorate of Eden Monaro
– Painting 50/50 by 2020 on the Tathra water tower
– The Bega River LifeSaving Energy Big Swim to raise money for a wind turbine for the Tathra primary school.

An auction will be held after the meeting to help raise funds for the school wind turbine. Artists from the local area have donated art work for the auction. An electric push bike from Tathra Beach and Bike will be auctioned on the night.

regards, Matthew Nott

Solar Farm update for Bega District News

The Bega Valley will be a step closer to hosting Australia’s first community owned solar farm this month. The Rudd Government is rapidly moving to honour its pre-election promises, including the $100,000 feasibility funding for the CEFE solar farm.

Despite Australia’s widespread sunshine, you can count our solar farms on one hand. At present, solar photovoltaic and solar thermal technology contribute less than 1% of national energy needs. Yet the potential is enormous.  This map shows the area (70km x 70km) of solar panels required to generate enough energy to replace all tradable fuels (including coal, oil and natural gas) presently used in Australia.

While it wouldn’t be sensible to ‘put all our eggs in one basket’ with a single installation, this gives you an idea of just how efficient solar power can be. Large, commercial-scale installations produce cheaper solar power than small stand-alone installations on houses: in 2008, this is about 25c/kWh compared with 45c/kWh.

The great advantage of solar power is that the sun’s energy is free and abundant, and its cost does not change over time. To ensure solar energy reaches its potential in Australia, its initial development will need strong support from governments, e.g. through a national feed-in tariff (see next week’s article!).

Clean Energy for Eternity’s aim is to give local communities a practical working example of how to get a 1-2MW solar farm off the ground. The outcomes of the feasibility study will include our lessons about what funding and technical partnerships are needed.

We’ve already made great progress on a voluntary basis, but the pace will pick up rapidly with the funding. The first instalment will pay for a detailed budget breakdown of our milestones, the sites on offer and the most suitable technology (eg photovoltaic panels or concentrated solar thermal).

This is an exciting opportunity for the whole community to get involved in Australia’s first community solar farm. Contact CEFE ([email protected]) if you’d like to participate, have land to offer or want to know more about the project.

Philippa Rowland 11 July 08

Solar farms and Revolutions

Clean Energy For Eternity have had the foot to the floor.
A public meeting in Tathra last Thursday heard Mike Kelly committ to his pre election promise of $100000 to look into the feasibility of a solar farm for our region. This has lead to the formation of a working group that includes representation from local government, ANU, the Mosman community, and regional talent. Mike Kelly talked about a further $1 million in Federal Government funding to put into a solar farm. He talked about an aspirational target of 50/50 by 2020 for the electorate of Eden-Monaro, and the importance of looking at all renewable energy technologies in order to meet a 50/50 by 2020 target. This would involve wind, sun and biomass generation, as well as emerging technologies such as wave and tide generation.
Steve Garrett talked about the sort of changes that will be required for meeting our 50/50 by 2020 target, and the place that solar could have in the mix of renewable energy solutions. He made it clear that a solar farm is going to be a big undertaking.
An attendance of 150 people voted at the meeting in favour of painting “50/50 by 2020” on the Tathra water tower. This allows us to procede with a development application through council.
At the same meeting we held a very successful art auction, which has helped us raise $3500 so far for a wind turbine for the Tathra primary school. Thanks to all the local artists who generously donated art work for the auction.
Matthew Nott

Media Release

Senator Chris Evans
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate
Shadow Minister for National Development, Resources and Energy
Mike Kelly
Labor candidate for Eden Monaro

A Rudd Labor Government will provide up to $100,000 towards the establishment of a Solar Farm on the New South Wales South Coast as part of Federal Labor’s Green Precincts program.
“A ten hectare solar farm on the South Coast could provide 2 megawatts of power – enough to power up to 1000 homes – and provide a positive working example for regional communities across Australia,” said Senator Chris Evans, Shadow Minister for Resources and Energy.
“Solar power is one of the cleanest forms of energy, capable of significantly reducing greenhouse pollution and providing low-cost renewable energy to power our homes and heat our water.”
“A Rudd Labor government will provide the funding to the South Coast community group Clean Energy for Eternity towards a detailed scoping study into a South Coast Solar Farm”, said Mike Kelly, Labor candidate for Eden Monaro.
“This funding is a tribute to the hard work of Clean Energy for Eternity, which has galvanised public support throughout the South Coast and beyond for real action on climate change and clean, renewable energy.”
“Should the project go ahead, Federal Labor would consider funding up to an additional $1 million in matching funds through Labor’s $15 million Green Precincts program to support the construction of the solar farm,” said Senator Chris Evans.
Federal Labor’s Green Precincts program will fund at least ten high profile practical projects that:
Demonstrate significant water and energy savings, including use of renewable energy;
Are built at facilities that connect with or are used by thousands of people; and
Include a significant community education component.

A Rudd Labor Government will deliver a comprehensive action plan on climate change and clean energy, including:
Ratifying the Kyoto protocol;
Establishing a national emissions trading scheme by 2010 and cutting Australia’s greenhouse pollution by 60 per cent by 2050;
Setting a 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020;
Establishing a $500 million Renewable Energy Fund, a $240 million Clean Business Fund and a $150 million Energy Innovation Fund;
Making every Australian school a Solar School; and
Offering generous rebates and low interest loans to help Australian families install solar power and solar hot water
Contact:    Tim Friedrich (Evans) 0417 753 219 for Mike Kelly

The Bodalla Big Cheese

The Bega Valley Big Solar Farm

A solar farm is going to be good for our regional economy. It’s going to employ people. it’s going to be a good investment opportunity, right at at time when we are going to need investment opportunities. It’s going to be a tourist attraction. You don’t need much of an angle to attract tourists and we have a terrific tourist angle here. Every regional centre in Australia has a big thing. Coffs Harbour has a big Banana, Goulburn has a big sheep.Adaminiby has a big trout. The Bega Valley doesn’t have a Big Thing.
What is Bega’s Big Thing going to be? There is already a big block of cheese in Bodalla.  What say we build the Bega Big Solar Farm. How many tourists a year would that attract? The Coffs Harbour Big Banana attracts 100 000 visitors a year!