A proposal to use crow-funding and community ownership to install solar and reduce reliance on expensive and dirty diesel generation in WA has attracted huge interest.
A clean tech expert is hoping to tap into crowd-funding and community ownership models to help install solar energy and address the soaring costs of dirty fossil fuels in remote Western Australian communities.
Peter Hansford of Regional Cleantech Solutions, recently hosted a community solar forum at Notre Dame University in Broome. It attracted 110 people and $120,000 in pledges for community solar projects.
Hansford is confident that such a model an be used to harness the plentiful solar resources of north-western Australia and he has spoken with five separate indigenous communities in the Kimberley region about such projects.
In the Kimberley region, the average daily usage by household is 34 kWh, compared to 16 kWh across the nation, and can be as high as 50 kWh in the wet season. The cost of energy – mostly sourced from diesel trucked in from regional centres – is also high. Hansford said that in some communities truck in costs and energy bills can reach up to $11,000 per household per year.
Jarlmadangah currently spends around $209,000 on diesel per annum for its town of 70 people, a small school and health clinic. The community of Yakanarra is said to have five months of diesel stockpiled – around 300,000 litres, equating to $600,000.
Looma, just eight kilometres away from Jarlmadangah, has a weekly ‘truck in’ money fund that each working community member must contribute to, totalling around $35 per person, per week.
The Kimberley area also receives a larger than proportional amount of ‘Hardship Utility Grants’ to assist with paying bills, mainly energy bills. Although the Kimberly holds only 0.16% of the Western Australian population in 2010 they received 0.37% of these allocated grants, in 2011 it was 0.30%. These figures are almost two to three times the state average.
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