It is quite remarkable that some communities in remote regions of Western Australia have to pay thousands of dollars per year on their energy bills, only because they rely on burning gas and diesel to generate power, when the amount of sunlight that hits the areas is enough to produce much cheaper and sufficient amount energy through solar power projects.
Peter Hansford, an expert from Regional Cleantech Solutions, has set himself a challenge to raise enough money to fund community solar projects, help the locals and harness the unlimited solar power resource.
The Kimberly region is Hansford’s main area of interest. At a forum that he organized at the Notre Dame University, the expert stated that while across Australia, people use around 16kWh of energy a day, in Kimberley this number is between 35 and 50kWh depending on the season. To generate electricity, the communities rely on expensive diesel, which is trucked in from regional centers. This makes the annual bills per household sometimes reach as much as $11,000.
Hansford analysed the energy generation and consumption within five communities in the Kimberley area. He was shocked to find that not only the money that these communities spend on electricity is enormous, but also it is very likely that their diesel supply might run dry if diesel tankers cannot reach the remote places due to weather conditions.
This is why, Hansford is convinced that funding community solar projects is the way to go. The benefits and savings will be great, and governmental and non-governmental organizations should join efforts to help and encourage such initiatives.
Hansford was already able to raise $120,000 in pledges for solar projects. His aim is to get larger providers involved, by promoting a buy back scheme of roughly 50 cents per kilowatt. According to his calculations, in a space of a decade, the communities will already make profit, which could then be reinvested in various facilities. In addition, this will make them much less energy dependent on larger providers and will allow them to employ more locals.
The clean tech expert is convinced that community generation of electricity is a way for these small groups of people to boost their local businesses, while at the same time cut down on energy bills and collect benefits. Hansford is finalizing his business plan as we speak, and he hopes that many governmental and non-governmental organizations will be keen to provide grants for community solar projects.