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We&#;ve been keeping our eye on a cool startup community energy project, Sydney Renewable Power Company, which has entered into an innovative public-private partnership with Darling Harbour Live to install kW of PV array on the rooftop of the redeveloped Sydney Convention Centre.

EWB helped Sydney Renewable Power Company find a volunteer engineer for their board via our skilled volunteering program, and the project is now going great guns with the deal signed, construction underway and power to be generated from next year.

How does it work?  People from around Australia will be invited later this year to buy a share in Sydney Renewable Power Company (they’re looking for shareholders, one for each kW) in order to finance the PV installation, and then every year the shareholders will get a return from the project, which they aim to be around -% per annum on average, fully franked. It is a great way for people to invest with a financial, environmental, and social return – especially for apartment dwellers and renters who can’t put solar on their own roof.

Sydney Renewable director Andy Cavanagh-Downs says, “We think that operating energy projects on a smaller scale provide a lot of benefits. This scale means that energy projects can be distributed geographically and we are more readily able to use the untapped energy resources around us. An installation of this size is perfect for the community to rally around. Inviting the community to fund these projects also gives people an opportunity to invest in a way that balances their interests for a financial return with their desire to act responsibly and make a meaningful difference.”

Medium-scale distributed solar energy systems – located on the roofs of factories, warehouses, shopping malls and convention centres – could provide a significant proportion of urban electricity demand over time.  Many such projects are community funded. We’re glad to have been able to play a small part in getting Sydney Renewable Power Company off the ground, and we’ll share more information when their offer document becomes available.