Expertise that enables


There are a wide number of community renewable energy resources out there that could help you understand what community energy is. Below are some of our favourites – some we have written and some from practitioners, government departments and research from across the world.

    How To guide      R4A_title_pic    NCES_Vertical1

Note web links to CORE projects operation and in development can be found in our CORE Map.

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First Port of Call

The following resources were developed or co-authored by us. They will provide community groups a sense of existing models and processes and will guide the setting up of community owned energy projects.

Guide to Community-Owned Renewable Energy for Victorians

This Community-owned Renewable Energy Guide has been created to give communities in Victoria information about developing community-owned renewable energy projects.
The guide was commissioned by the Victorian Government and has been co-authored by Community Power Agency as member of the Coalition for Community Energy (C4CE).
It is a resource for community groups that are considering a community energy project and those that are already in the process of establishing a project. The guide consolidates existing knowledge and resources and provides links to further information and advice. Please download the guide here.

Community-Owned Renewable Energy: A HOW TO GUIDE

Written by Jarra Hicks, Nicky Ison and Franziska Mey from Community Power Agency as well as Jack Gilding from Backroad Connections, the HOW TO GUIDE was prepared with the financial assistance of the NSW Government, through the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage’s Regional Clean Energy Program. The Guide is intended as a first port of call to get an idea of how to start a community owned renewable energy project.  After reading the guide we hope you will have the confidence to go and talk to relevant organisations and read more of the many detailed resources available to help you on your journey to developing your own community renewable energy project. Short 4 page summary version here

Community Energy Masterclass 2014

A power point presentation developed by Jarra Hicks for the North Coast Energy Forum in the Northern Rivers of NSW. This presentation runs through the basics of what community energy is and how to go about making a project happen. It also gives a run down of the current models for community owned renewable energy in Australia. Content can be used under the Creative Commons license (not for profit purposes & with recognition of its source – the Community Power Agency).


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Policy Advocacy

Latest Submissions

A collection of the most recent submissions made by Community Power Agency to relevant reviews and consultations.

Repower Australia Plan – Homegrown Power Plan v2

The ‘Repower Australia Plan’ outlines how we can repower the country with clean energy, rewrite the rules of our failing electricity system and replace the polluters holding us back.
Community Power Agency are proud authors of the Plan which, like it’s predecessor the Homegrown Power Plan, provides clear actions for how we can facilitate community energy so that we can have a faster and fairer transition to clean energy.
Repower Australia is a people powered campaign to upgrade Australia’s energy system to 100% renewables. It is a joint project by Australia’s leading climate change organisations.
You can download the summary here
…and find the full report here

Homegrown Power Plan

The Homegrown Power Plan is a joint project of GetUp! and Solar Citizens and is co-authored by GetUp’s Miriam Lyons and Community Power Agency’s Nicky Ison (with input from many people).
The Homegrown Power Plan shows how we can repower Australia with 100% renewable energy by 2030. How? By rebooting our failing electricity system, removing the roadblocks holding us back, and investing in the renewables boom.
Importantly for community energy it sets out how we can transform our energy system to facilitate local community energy projects, incentivise developers to partner with communities and introduces a great community energy policy – Community Powerhouses. You can download the summary here, and find the full report here.


Renewables for All Discussion and Policy Briefing Papers

The ‘Renewables for All’ project is an initiative of the Coalition for Community Energy, led by the Community Power Agency and funded by Energy Consumer Australia that aims to significantly increase access to new energy technologies such as solar PV and battery storage to those customer segments that are currently not able to access them. A number of downloadable discussion and policy briefing papers were developed in the last 6 month. Please find them here.

Best Practice International Policy for Community Energy

The UK, Scotland, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Austria, several states of the USA, Ontario state in Canada, Thailand, Japan, South Africa and the NSW State Government, among others, all have policy incentives targeting community scale and community owned renewable energy enterprise. This document outlines and provides examples of a range of financial and non-financial policy options available to support the development of a community energy sector. Download the document here.

Community Renewable Energy Fund – Marsden Jacobs Associates

This report by financial consultants Marsden Jacobs Associates was commissioned by Community Power Agency as part of Fund Community Energy Campaign.  The reports presents modelling done by Marsden Jacob Associates on the potential impact that a community renewable energy grant fund would have to renewable energy development and flow-on effects to communities.  The modelling found that $875m co-investment from the community could be realised through a $50m government grant fund. The expected benefits of a $50m grant fund are:

– 142,450 community investors, across Australian regions
– $875m total investment across 153 operational projects
– investment to grant leverage ratio of 17:1
– 326 MW installed capacity of solar, wind, micro hydro and bioenergy
– peak employment of 1,145 and maintenance employment of 137
– 4,277 volunteers by 2025
– range of technologies: solar (91), biomass (14), hydro (4), wind (44)
– abatement of 19.6 MTCO2.

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Understanding CE in Australia

Challenges and Opportunities of the Sector in Australia

This report maps the status of community renewable energy (CORE) in Australia (as of 2013) and outlines the key barriers to and opportunities for action. It provides an evidence base for the actions needed to grow a vibrant CORE sector in Australia. The study surveyed 28 CORE projects at various stages of development and 9 organisations involved in supporting the CORE sector. The work was conducted by the Community Power Agency in collaboration with the Institute for Sustainable Futures and Backroad Connections and was funded by NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Renewable Energy Precincts program.

National Community Energy Strategy

One of the key initiatives of C4CE to date has been the development of a National Community Energy Strategy (NCES). The purpose of the National Community Energy Strategy is as a shared agenda – vision, set of objectives and priority initiatives – to grow a vibrant community energy sector across Australia. The NCES outlines 34 priority initiatives across five key areas. Community Power Agency was a partner in the development of the NCES and we are proud to be working to progress a number of the priority initiatives identified.

Community Energy Collective Impact Baseline Assessment

This report is part of the Australian National Community Energy Strategy and has been co-authored by Nicky Ison. It offers baseline data and an interesting preliminary overview of the contributions that community energy is making in and the challenges it is facing. The report is based on results of a national survey of community energy groups and stakeholder workshop, where a set of shared indicators was developed and later used to collect the baseline data and to develop recommendations and specifications for the development of an online Shared Measurement Platform (SMP) and measurement and reporting framework, including structures, processes and possible funding structures for the ongoing management and operation. Fifty three community energy groups were invited to participate in the baseline assessment, of these data was received from 27 groups.

Community Renewable Energy in Australia: Exploring its character & emergence in the context of climate change action

Community renewable energy (CRE) is a relatively new feature in the bouquet of climate change action and renewable energy deployment in Australia. This academic article has been written by Franziska Mey and Jarra Hicks and was presented at the International EMES Conference in June 2015 in Finland. The article explores the scope and character of CRE in Australia and theorise why it has emerged at this time. In doing this the authors draw on two national surveys of the nascent CRE movement, one conducted in 2011 and the other in 2014, and present an analysis of the key characteristics of CRE in Australia and how these have changed over this time period. We apply social movement theory to analyse its emergence at this time and to compare movement drivers in Australia with those in Germany and Denmark, where CRE is most well established. Please download the manuscript here.



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Useful Websites and Organisations

100% Renewables Community Campaign
Alternative Technology Association
Australian Clean Energy Council
Australian Community Energy
Coalition for Community Energy
Centre for Alternative Technology 
Community Energy Scotland
Future Energy
Institute for Sustainable Futures 
Nordic Folke Centre for Renewable Energy
Ontario Sustainable Energy Association
Renewable Communities
Solar Citizens
Starfish Enterprises
Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative
The Change Agency
Wind Works

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Funding and Business Model Options

Funding Options for Solar

Do you want to put solar on the roof of a community building, a business or other iconic property? Yes?

You’re in luck there are a few organisations that provide funding or financing for this purpose. CPA has set out the options applicable for not-for-profit or social purpose organisations we know about. Find the overview here.

Community Solar Project Decision Guide

Despite the challenging energy market and regulatory context there are a number of different community renewable energy models operating in the Australia. Behind the meter community solar models are the most viable and currently successful models we know of that will work in the current context. Noting of course that each model has specific requirements, so may not work in your community, or may need to be adapted to suit your local context.

In the National Community Energy Strategy the C4CE provides an overview of the different models and tools to help you to set up your own project. Find an introduction and overview and case studies of behind the meter models here and the Community Solar Projects Decision Guide here.


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Multi-household models of community energy

These models aggregate households to deliver sustainable energy solutions. Examples of such models include solar bulk-buys which were popular around 2009 and the Moreland Energy Foundation has developed a rates-backed solar model for low income households (Solar Savers Program) with the City of Darebin in Victoria. Read more about Solar Savers Program here.

Social Housing Solar

In NSW the South Coast Health and Sustainability Alliance (SHASA) and Repower Coffs have both secured funding from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage through their Growing Community Energy Program to develop and pilot a new model of community energy that directly benefits low-income households. The specific approach taken by both groups is to work with social and community housing providers (CHPs), to help them install solar and possibly energy efficiency to the benefit of their tenants. Community Power Agency and Chris Cooper have supported both community groups to identify a number of potential models for delivering a solar program for CHP tenants. Those options are discussed in the first project report ‘Low-income Community Solar – Options Assessment South Coast Solar Saver‘, which you can find here. We have also developed an implementation plan for the delivery of the solar program. This plan sets out the roles, work-streams and tasks required to implement a solar program for the tenants of CHPs, timeframes are also suggested. The ‘Social Housing Solar Implementation Plan’ can be found here.

Community Investment Models

These models are where an organisation develops a sustainable energy project and raise funds through opening up the project to community investors, on the expectation that these investors will receive a certain return on their investment. Examples of a community solar investment model is the Repower Shoalhaven model.

Repower Shoalhaven

Repower Shoalhaven is a member based not-for-profit association founded in May 2013, which aims to develop community renewable energy projects for the benefit of local people, groups and businesses. They have developed a very successful CRE model with 2 projects at a total capacity of 129 kW operating and one more project with close to 100 kW to be launched on May 18th 2016. The projects are set up by using the legal structure of proprietary limited company Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), which is based on the Difference Incubator’s (TDI) small-scale community solarfarm model. Check out their website and read more about their model here.

Lismore Solar Farm

A more recent example of a community investment model is the partnership between the City of Lismore and Farming the Sun Inc.. This project demonstrates the great potential for local council and community collaboration. Lismore City Council and Farming the Sun have now completed negotiations to build two solar farms at the Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre and East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant. To overcome site limitations a truly innovative solution with a floating solar system was found, that is now going to be used for the East Lismore Solarfarm. Community investment will provide a loan to fund the build of the solar farms, which will be owned by the Council and they will use all electricity generated on site. Check out their website here and read more about their model here.

Commercial-community partnership models

In this approach the community group partners with a commercial energy developer (or similar organisation) to deliver a community energy project. This can result in duel ownership between the community and the developer. An example is Clear Sky Solar.

Clear Sky Solar

Another very successful model has been developed by Clear Sky Solar. This organisation has already 11 projects with more than 425 kW installed. The community group emerged as local chapter of the Clean Energy for Eternity Association established during the heights of the climate movement in 2006. In their model, community investors form a trust which then provides a loan to a solar company who owns and operations the solar PV installation on behalf of the host site (eg. the Boggrabri Pub). Check out their website and learn more about their model here.

Donation/community organisation models

One of the most successful models in Australia is a donation-based approach. This model involves a community raising funds through donations (either using a crowdfunding platform or more traditional fundraising) to install renewable energy or undertake energy efficiency measures. Typically, the host site and beneficiary of this model is a community organisation such as a school, surf-lifesaving club, fire station etc.

For example Repower Shoalhaven had its first success was the decision to start small and to keep the momentum by starting with a simpler and easier to deliver donation-based project. Donations from the local community funded a 9 kW solar PV array for the Kangaroo Valley Community Centre and Ambulance Station, just a year after the organisation kicked-off. Read more here.

Yet, the most thriving approach is the Quick Win project model from CORENA (Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Australia Inc.). As of April 2016, more than $120,000 were donated by CORENA’s supporters, enabling the installation of 11 solar projects with a total capacity of 74.25 kW. Two more projects are currently in the pipeline. Their model is based on voluntary contributions of any amount from citizens to provide a zero interest loan to install solar PV on and undertaken energy efficiency at a community organisation’s building. The loan repayments are used to fund even more community energy projects. Learn more about their model here and current projects here.

Other groups using this model are Clean Energy for EternityCleanAs and COREM.

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Community Energy Map and Database

Community Power Agency leads a collaborative effort to maintain the most up-to-date database of Australian community energy groups.  This data is then available for publishing into maps, sharing with other data-sets of community energy and for researchers and policy makers.

The Australian community energy database records the Groups (the organisations who organise projects), the Projects (the endeavours which result in sustainable energy installations) and Sites (the individual locations where sustainable energy has been installed).

Map of community energy groups in Australia

This map shows the community energy groups in Australia.

If your community organisation is planning (or has completed) a project to install sustainable energy, such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy infrastructure or energy services, then you’re probably a community energy group.  Typical examples include solar, wind, bulk-buy programs, energy efficiency, electric vehicle charging stations or even becoming a community-owned electricity retailer.  So long is it’s community behind the project then you’ll meet our definition of being community energy – that means the community has conceived, developed, owns or operates the project.  Sustainable energy products or services targeting communities or community members doesn’t equate to community energy – the community needs to be actively involved in the delivery of those products or services at some point.  Community-developer partnerships are valid, as are community-council partnerships.

To add your group to this map, please fill in this form

You can open this map of groups in new window for a larger view here

Source data on groups is available here

Energy Archipelago

Energy Archipelago is an international collaboration lead by Scene Consulting.  Community Power Agency are data partners for this global mapping resource.



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Authored by us

Hicks, J. (2013) Communities and wind power: What’s the deal? in ReNew Magazine, Alternative Technology Association.

Hicks, J. and Ison, N. (2012) ‘Community Energy’ in A. Shepherd, P. Allen and P. Harper The Home Energy Handbook: a guide to saving and generating energy in your home and community. Centre for Appropriate Technology, Wales.

Hicks, J. and Ison, N (2011) Community-Owned Renewable Energy: Opportunities for Rural AustraliaRural Society Journal, Albury, Australia.

Hicks, J. & Ison, N. (2011) Community Renewable Energy Research Report, prepared for New England Wind.

Ison, N. (2010), Governance of Community Energy Projects in the UK, Dissertation, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster.

Ison, N. (2009), Overcoming Technical Knowledge Barriers to Community Energy Projects in Australia, Honours Thesis, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney.

Hicks, J. (2009) Local Responses to Climate Change: Using the Diverse Economy to Meet Energy NeedsHonours Thesis, Discipline of Geography and Enviornmental Studies, Newcastle University, Newcastle. See a summary here.

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Community Renewable Energy Theory

Academic journal articles can be hard to come by.  If you need more information on how to access these (should some tickle your fancy) please get in touch with us.


Adams, S. (2008) Low Carbon Communities: A study of community energy project in the UK,Ruralnet|uk

Mulugetta, Y., Jackson, T. and van der Horst, D. (eds) (2010) ‘Special section: Carbon Reduction at a Community Scale’, Energy Policy, Vol 38, No 12 p7541-7980

Greenius, L., Jagniecki, E. and Thompson, K. (2010) Moving Towards Sustainable Community Renewable Energy: A Strategic Approach for Communities, Masters Thesis, School of Engineering, Blekinge Institute of Technology.

Hielscher, S., Seyfang, G. and Smith, A. (2011) Community Innovation for Sustainable Energy: CSERGE Working Paper 2011-03, Centre of Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment.

Van der Horst, D. (2008) ‘Social enterprise and renewable energy: emerging initiatives and communities of practice’ Social Enterprise Journal, Vol 4, No 3, p171-185

Walker, G. (2008) ‘What are the barriers and incentives for community-owned means of energy production and use?’ Energy Policy, Issue 36 December 2008

Walker, G. and Cass, N. (2007) ‘Carbon reduction, ‘the public’ and renewable energy: engaging with socio-technical configurations’ Area, Vol 39, Issue 4, p458-469

Walker, G., Hunter, S., Devine-Wright, P., Evans, B. and Fay, H. (2007) ‘Harnessing community energies: explaining and evaluating community-based localism in renewable energy policy in the UK’ Global Environmental Politics Vol 7, p64–82

Walker, G., Devine-Wright, P., Hunter, S., High, H. and Evans, B. (2009) ‘Trust and community: Exploring the meanings, contexts and dynamics of community renewable energy’,Energy Policy, Vol 38, Issue 6, p2655-2663

Walker, G. and Devine-Wright, P. (2008) ‘Community Renewable Energy: What should it mean?’ Energy Policy, Vol 36, p. 497-500.

You’ll note that we’re a big fan of Gordon Walker, well he’s one of the most published academics on community renewables, he’s a great guy and Nicky was fortunate enough to have him as a supervisor in 2010.

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The Embark website provides a comprehensive Australian specific overview of community renewable energy, including practical capacity-building tools. It also showcases different examples of successful community energy projects from around the world as well as having important Australian specific information.

This comprehensive toolkit has been produced by Community Energy Scotland for the Scottish Government and Energy Saving Trust to help community groups to develop renewable energy projects as well as pursue energy efficiency activities. The guide is more technologically oriented and also provides practical information for community groups undertaking renewable electricity or heating projects.

This comprehensive toolkit has been produced by Community Energy Scotland for the Scottish Government and Energy Saving Trust to help community groups to develop renewable energy projects as well as pursue energy efficiency activities. The guide is more technologically oriented and also provides practical information for community groups undertaking renewable electricity or heating projects.

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Case Studies

Towards Energy Sovereignty – First Nations case studies from North America

Four stories from four different First Nations in North America demonstrate the opportunities of community-owned renewable energy projects for Indigenous communities.

From remote villages in Alaska to the deserts of Arizona, these First Nations are using the power of wind, sun and water not only to provide electricity and economic development, but to increase their self-reliance and move towards energy sovereignty.

Are there parallels for Australia, especially remote and Indigenous communities?

Find the full report here

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