Community Solar in Canberra – Majura Solar Farm

Investors in the Australian Capital Territory have put $3.07 million into Australia’s largest community solar project – which will be built on a vineyard in Canberra. Community solar isn’t a new thing in Australia – but it’s certainly gathering steam (or sunlight) as rising energy prices and rapidly improving solar power technology is encouraging people to invest in renewable energy.

Community Solar – The SolarShare Community Energy Majura Solar Farm

Community Solar - Majura Solar Farm
Community Solar – Majura Solar Farm (source: serree.org.au)

The $3m solar plant is going to be built at the flat land at the bottom of the valley at Mount Majura Vineyard (since wine grapes are best grown on slopes this is currently unused land) and will consist of 5,000 solar panels. The Majura Solar Farm will be built over approximately three hectares and is expected to produce 1.9GWh of electricity per year, which it is planning on selling directly to the ACT government.

Lawrence McIntosh from SolarShare said that, pending approval, they are hoping to have the farm built in 2018.  The ‘SolarShare Community’ applied to sell the energy at a fixed price to the ACT government –  for $200/Mwh ($0.20 / kWh) over a 20 year period. No word on whether this is a bit hopeful but we’ll see (click here for the annual volume weighted average spot prices) how they go, given that this is the largest community owned solar plant in Australia, in terms of output. According to the Canberra Times, the feed-in tariff (FIT) amount is still under consideration. A spokeswoman from the ACT Environment and Planning and Sustainable Development was quoted as saying “The Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability will make the final decision regarding the outcome of the process”.

533 backers are part of the community solar project which comes hot on the heels of private solar investment in Australia growing exponentially over the past few months.