In Australia, the New South Wales State Government recently announced that it would make funding available for community owned renewable energy projects by way of Government grants known as Growing Community Energy Grants. A total of up to $AUD700,000 has been allocated for these grants.
The Growing Community Energy Grants are designed to support and assist community renewable energy projects or community energy efficiency projects in their early stages by minimising the initial administrative costs often associated with such projects. Accordingly, any funding awarded to a project may be used only for the project development stage (including social and technical feasibility studies, planning, securing host sites and engaging with local communities) and not for capital expenditure, construction or operational costs.
Only renewable energy projects or energy efficiency projects which are developed and managed by the community, and in respect of which the community will derive a benefit from the final project outcomes, are eligible for the grants. This would usually involve an ownership stake by the community. In addition, the NSW Government has indicated that projects which demonstrate high levels of community engagement and ownership will be prioritised.
Further eligibility criteria include that:
- funding will be available only to legally incorporated entities which are developing community energy projects in NSW. Although applicants themselves are not required to be incorporated, unincorporated applicants must ensure that the grant will be administered by an incorporated or government entity;
- commercially available and proven renewable energy (or energy efficiency) technology must be proposed to be used. The NSW Government has also encouraged applications in relation to projects that propose to combine energy efficiency and renewable energy elements;
- the final generating capacity for a renewable energy project should be at least 70kW; and
- the applicant must have contacted their local Regional Clean Energy Coordinator regarding the application prior to submitting it.
Generally, grants of up to AUD 50,000 are available for successful applicants, however new business models that are considered to be especially innovative may, at the Government’s discretion, receive up to AUD 70,000.
Applications for the Growing Community Energy Grants are now open and may be made until 12pm (AEDT) on 15 December 2014.
Successful applicants will be required to create a thorough project plan, agreed milestones and reporting requirements by March 2015 by working with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. In addition, successful applicants must adhere to a project delivery timeframe of 12 months from April 2015 to March 2016.
For more information visit: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/communities/clean-energy-grants.htm.