Ethical Investor tells us that the launch of NFP ‘Embark Australia’ – aiming to accelerate the roll-out of community-funded renewable energy projects – has coincided with the turning the first sod ceremony for the Hepburn community-owned wind farm near Daylesford in Victoria.
The community wind co-operative idea has been loosely based on the Danish model of community ownership of wind turbines and despite being launched during the financial crisis, the project has signed up over 1150 members and secured more than $11.6m. The wind farm construction process now beginning will see two 2.05 MW wind turbines built at Leonards Hill, 10 km south of Daylesford.
Hepburn Wind is being recognised as a model around Australia for community engagement.
Embark will advise and support 100 Australian community energy projects over the next 10 years. It will empower communities to engage constructively in the climate challenge and there is the potential to attract 100,000 new local investors in community-based wind, solar or biomass schemes.
Executive director Mary Dougherty says:
“Embark is a unique community enterprise that has never been seen before on this scale in this country. It is designed by Australians and tailored for the Australian environment..
There is a vast difference between the impacts of an individual installing solar panels on a home and the impact of a major utility carbon abatement initiative.
By facilitating community initiatives we can provide practical opportunities for collective action to reduce carbon emissions and help bridge the significant gap that exists between the impact of household and utility-scale initiatives.”
Hepburn Chairman and Embark funder Simon Holmes a Court says Embark has attracted more than 1350 investors – ranging from local families to philanthropic organisations – and it has raised more than $8.3 million.
“With the linked launch of Embark to support other communities in their renewable energy endeavours, we hope our achievement will be the first of many more in communities across Australia..
We don’t have to wait for government or big business to act on climate change.”
Simon has broad commercial experience, ranging from ‘dot com’ businesses in Silicon Valley to remote cattle stations in Australia’s remote Northern Territory. He is a founder of Melbourne based Observant Pty Ltd, which designs and manufactures highly-scalable infrastructure monitoring and automation solutions for remote settings.
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