Solar for Salvos: ARENA pilot shares cheap renewables with NGOs

A new ARENA-backed project will use homegrown Australian technology to share the cheap and clean electricity generated by solar panels across multi-tenanted buildings owned by not-for-profit organisations.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency said last week that it was granting $220,000 in funding to Melbourne-based company Allume, to deliver a $1.04 million rooftop solar pilot project in partnership with The Salvation Army and Green Peak Energy.

The pilot, at the Salvos Glenorchy City Corps in Tasmania, will install 487kW of SolShare enabled rooftop PV across 10 multi-unit properties either owned or tenanted by the Salvation Army and other non-government organisations.

The Salvation Army will then enter into a Power Purchase Agreement with project financier Green Peak Energy, and become the solar energy retailer of the building, using SolShare to distribute and meter individual tenants in proportion with their individual energy use.

The ground-breaking technology will also allow The Salvation Army to generate additional revenue by on-selling excess solar energy at a cheaper cost than grid-supplied energy, ensuring everyone in the building benefits from cheaper, renewable power.

And if the $1.04 million pilot project is successful, Allume Energy intends to roll out the project across the not-for-profit sector.

“Allume Energy is immensely proud to be deploying our world-first technology on this project and demonstrating how solar electricity can be shared to multiple tenants in the same building,” said the company’s CEO, Cameron Knox.

“This is core to our mission of making solar accessible to all.”

One Step Off The Grid has followed Allume’s progress with its SolShare technology with great interest, as the young Melbourne company promises to break through the solar ceiling for people traditionally “locked out” of the rooftop solar market.

The company’s first commercial project, back in May of 2018, installed a PV system on a mixed residential and retail building in the Melbourne Bayside suburb of Highett and successfully delivered cheap PV power to five apartments, a baker, a hair salon, and an occupational therapist.

A year later, Allume was tapped by ASX-listed property developer Mirvac to use the SolShare technology at its then-new Folia apartment building in Doncaster, Victoria, with a view to using across all of its multi-tenanted building assets.

And in December of 2019, the technology was applied to an apartment block in the Melbourne suburb of Preston, alongside 70kW of solar and 54kWh of battery storage, to share the spoils between the building’s 52 apartments.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said last week that the SolShare technology promised to open up access to the benefits of rooftop solar no matter where or what type of housing people lived in.

“With the help of Green Peak Energy, owners of buildings can now install solar at no upfront cost and on-sell to their tenants, creating a new market for rooftop solar,” Miller said.

“ARENA is particularly excited that Allume Energy is trialling their technology with The Salvation Army, who will be able to free up more funds from energy costs to help those Australian’s most in need.”

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