Recent years have seen a significant take-up of solar PV systems at a household, small business and commercial level. Consumers and businesses generating their own power locally have benefited with bill reductions from feed-in tariffs for energy exports to the grid, as well as avoiding paying for grid-supplied power during times their systems are generating power. The broader market has also benefited, with distributed generation dampening demand periods during the day.
Falling technology costs and easier installation processes, particularly for solar PV, are also assisting communities to transition to cleaner energy sources. This has made solar the most popular and viable renewable technology for Australian community energy projects.
There is a range of community solar business models. Behind the-meter models, is when the host site agrees to purchase the energy over the life of the project to avoid selling it into the energy market. The scale needs to be less than the minimum electricity demand of the host site to minimise grid connection issues and costs. It may also be possible to use these models for larger, grid-connected solar projects, depending on grid connection and electricity sale scenarios.
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