Sally Gillespie

Sally Gillespie

Sally Gillespie


Are you one of the 75 % of Australians who want to see Australia make the transition to renewable energy? If the answer is yes then you might want to consider the role community energy can play in this transition, and how you can participate and benefit from this new model for generating and distributing electricity.

Community energy initiatives are fast unrolling across Australia providing us with an alternative to buying electricity from energy corporations who are largely committed to generating energy from fossil fuels. Their 20th century model of centralised, large scale generation with long distance transmission and distribution is costly to maintain, highly polluting and vulnerable to disruptions. Once this was the only option, but now with the development of renewable energy and sophisticated information technologies, alternative models for energy generation and distribution have been developed which care for our planet, strengthen local communities and provide energy resilience in times of climate driven disruptions, like storms, floods and bush fires.

Already in Australia there are over one hundred community energy initiatives committed to fast tracking zero-net greenhouse gas emissions while strengthening community resources and independence. There are many different forms that these initiatives take but what unites them is a spirit of co-operation, a valuing of community and environmental health, smart digital technologies and the development of economic models that provide affordable clean energy.

One leading example of this kind of model is the Northern NSW community owned power company Enova Energy, which runs as a not-for-profit social enterprise, selling carbon neutral electricity to customers all over NSW and SE Queensland. Enova operates its own registered charity which distributes 50% of Enova’s profits back into community renewable energy projects, education and energy efficiency services. Its vision to help everybody to participate in the shift to renewables. One example of how this can happen is Enova’s ‘solar gardens’ where solar panels are installed on the roofs of medium sized business, so that customers who cannot install solar panels on their own residences can buy solar garden panels,  receiving ongoing credit on their power bills in exchange. Or, in the case of Enova’s ‘social benefit solar gardens’, social housing providers are given energy credits to distribute to their low income tenants in the form of reduced energy bills. Enova’s vision is to see projects like this replicated in partnership with regional communities all over Australia in the next few years.

Innovative and revolutionary models of community energy are increasingly accessible to Australians all over the country. These projects could be anything from solar panels on a school roof or sports complex, to a micro-grid co-owned by nearby towns or properties, to being a networked energy provider. All of these initiatives speed up the shift to renewable energy, lessening the dependence on aged and outdated centralised energy infrastructures while supporting communities to develop agency and take responsibility for their energy use.

To check out community energy projects near you, head over to these national directories:

  1. Coalition for Community Energy (C4CE).
  2. Community Power Agency


Are you one of the 75 % of Australians who what to see Australia make the transition to renewable energy? If so, you might be feeling a bit frustrated by the slowness with which this taking place, given the urgency with which climate action is needed. Currently renewables power.

There is a new model for energy unrolling.

In a community-based model, the developer of a wind, solar or other renewable energy facility shares ownership of the project with local community members.

A cooperative model is a jointly owned enterprise investing in wind, solar or hydro and bioenergy projects.

A community energy project combines the following elements:

  • Ownership and/or decision making power involves local individuals and stakeholders
  • Project development and design is driven by locals
  • Benefits from the project go to locals