The surprising thing Australians are investing in

Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull may be talking up the future of “clean coal” but ordinary Australians are putting their money elsewhere.

The Community Power Agency has produced a snapshot of community-owned energy projects and found Australians had financed more than 30 wind and solar projects to the tune of almost A$24 million ($26.1m) in the last six years.

The projects are so popular, they are being funded within hours of being offered in many cases.

Almost 8000kW of renewable energy projects has been funded using the community-ownership model – enough to power a small town.

Projects have included A$1.4m raised to install 2000 panels on top of Sydney’s International Convention Centre, A$180,000 for 600 panels at Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre and A$119,800 raised to install 396 panels on top of the Shoalhaven Heads Bowling and Recreation Club.

ClearSky is one of the bodies helping to connect businesses with Australians willing to help them fund their solar panels.

Today, a massive 228 kW solar system will be switched on at Bakers Maison, an industrial bakers located in Revesby in Sydney’s west, thanks to $390,000 raised from 20 investors in just six hours.

ClearSky founding director Dr Christina said high demand from investors meant it took only a few hours to fully fund such projects with applications coming from every state in Australia.

“Everyday Australians want to invest their money ethically and they are jumping at the opportunity to help businesses go solar,” Dr Kirsch said.

The business pays community investors for the solar power it uses over a seven to 10 year term.

The electricity is much cheaper than power offered on the mainstream market but is still high enough to cover the original sum invested, plus a return of about 7 per cent for investors. When the term ends, the business owns the system.

Sydney resident Monica Ahn, 28, was one of 150 people who raised A$17,500 in just nine minutes to install a 29.9kW solar farm on the roof of the Young Henry’s brewery in Sydney’s inner west.

Ms Ahn spent A$250 on buying 250 shares in the Pingala project, which is expected to make a return on investment of about 7-8 per cent.

But Ms Ahn told news.com.au she wasn’t motivated by financial incentives, it was more to do with supporting renewable energy.

“It’s a really clever business model and got the community involved, that’s why I was interested,” she said. Read full article here >