Haystacks Solar Garden launches in Grong Grong!

On Saturday 27 April, the small Riverina town of Grong Grong celebrated a major milestone – the launch of Haystacks Solar Garden. 

This Australian-first way of doing solar allows anyone connected to the electricity grid to access the benefits of solar directly on their electricity bill. 

This initiative is especially significant for the 30% of Australians who have been unable to access solar energy due to renting, living in apartments, or facing other barriers to installing rooftop solar panels.

“Haystacks Solar Garden has pioneered a new community-focused way of doing clean energy. It is a proof of concept for industry, demonstrating that there are many different ways to do solar and share the benefits with everyday people. Community energy projects like ours are a critical part of ensuring that the energy transition is both fast and fair.” said Kim Mallee, Haystacks Project Manager and Community Power Agency Director.

Haystacks Solar Garden is hosted by the purpose built 1.5MW Grong Grong Solar Farm that completed construction in March and this week began exporting electricity to the grid. Some background on how the solar garden works can be found here.

“Our incredible project team went above and beyond to pioneer this solar garden model in Australia – and to all our members that came on the rollercoaster journey from 2020 – we wouldn’t be here without them” said Kristy Walters, Haystacks Solar Garden Co-op Chairperson.

“Haystacks Solar Garden proves that solar can be made accessible for everyone – regardless of where you live or your tenure status, nobody needs to be locked out of benefiting from solar.”

175 solar garden plots were purchased by households in QLD, NSW, VIC and SA. These plots are expected to deliver an estimated $883,750 of savings to solar gardeners’ (household participants) electricity bills over the 10 year life of the project. 

“We’re making history here with Haystacks Solar Garden. I’m a renter, I live in a unit and my partner and I are both in our 80’s! We deeply care about equity in the shift to clean energy and this is a way of making the benefits of renewables accessible to all” said Haystacks Solar Gardener, Jean Hay. 

The launch of Haystacks Solar Garden comes just after the recent Commonwealth Government announcement of $30 million towards solar banks and onsite rooftop solar installation – aimed at enhancing solar accessibility for low-income renters and apartment dwellers. 

“The launch of Haystacks Solar Garden marks a significant leap forward in implementing solar garden models here in Australia—a concept that has already proven successful overseas in places like the US and Germany.” Kim Mallee, Project Director – Community Power Agency said.

“Despite the massive uptake of rooftop solar in Australia, there are still countless individuals in our communities who lack access to the benefits of solar energy. Haystacks Solar Garden serves as a template of success, paving the way for more solar gardens to follow and ensuring that more people can share in the solar revolution” said Nigel Hancock, Pingala Treasurer and project partner.

Haystacks Solar Garden is a project of Community Power Agency, Pingala and Komo Energy with Energy Locals as the participating electricity retailer. This project is proudly funded by the NSW Government in association with the Haystacks Solar Garden Co-operative, under the Regional Community Energy Fund.