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Grong Grong solar farm crowd-funds $750,000

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Target reached in just eight days

It took just eight days for a community solar farm project planned at Grong Grong to reach its $750,000 crowd-funding target.

Some 431 investors signed up for a stake in the proposed solar power station.

The crowd-funding campaign, an Australian first for a solar farm, was run through a website, Birchal.

It took 10 minutes to raise $100,000, $250,000 was pledged in 80 minutes and the $750,000 maximum target came after eight days.

Investors could put in anywhere from $250 to $10,000.

Crowd equity investors remain shareholders for the life of the project – likely to be anywhere from 20 to 35 years – and can sell their shares.

Under the scheme, the investors who signed up in the crowd-funding campaign join other seed investors in owning 90 per cent of the shares in what is the first crowd-equity-funded and owned solar farm.

Grong Grong farmer Gemma Pearce will lease about four hectares of land on her mixed farming property to the solar farm, after being approached by her friend and renewable energy specialist Jonathon Pendergast.

They wanted to make solar farms more accessible to regional communities and everyday Australians.

Komo Energy’s Gerald Arends was then brought on board. “Community scale solar is common in Germany, which is where I’m from originally.

To connect with Gemma and find such a supportive host in the town of Grong Grong was crucial to allow us to test this in Australia,” Mr Arends said.

Planning and grid studies, were commenced, partnering with Community Power Agency and Pingala to secure a $1.3 million grant from the NSW Regional Community Energy Fund.

The project will be a 1.7 MW solar farm that will generate about 3.7 million kilowatt-hours per annum, enough to power 400 homes. It is a $4 million project, with a mix of government grant, solar garden and equity funding.

It’s expected construction will begin this year and supply electricity into the local grid, earning revenue from the NSW wholesale market, as well as selling Renewable Energy Certificates, known as “LGCs” in Australia.

The project is battery ready, with planning modification and grid studies including a 2,300kWh battery – enough to soak up one quarter of daily generation and supply into the grid at peak demand and receive higher prices.

A transformer and solar inverter are in place too, so the battery is plug and play.

“Having the project battery ready is very exciting, because as the energy market changes, it adds flexibility and resilience to the project,” Mr Pendergast said.

Narrandera Argus 14 July 2022

This article appeared in the Narrandera Argus, 14 July 2022.

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