Australia’s First Solar Garden offers renewables for renters

Enova Energy, Australia’s first community-owned electricity provider, is on track to complete Australia’s first solar garden in November 2019.

The garden will make renewable energy accessible to renters and other people who previously haven’t had the option.

Enova Energy is a social enterprise that began in 2016 in Byron Bay to help communities access, share and store renewable energy, giving a real alternative to carbon-intensive electricity.

The company partners with communities to help them establish micro-grids, solar gardens, and other renewable energy projects.

“Fossil fuel is dangerous in terms of climate change, we have to stop our reliance on it, so let’s get on with building the new as fast as possible,” said Alison Crook, Enova Community Energy co-founder and chair..

The solar garden will help some of the 35 percent of Australians locked out of clean energy sources because they rent or because they live in buildings that aren’t compatible with solar panels.

A solar garden lets customers buy into a space where solar panels are located, and benefit from these panels via credit on their electricity bill.

In cities, this could involve installing solar panels on roof space leased for the purpose.

After just three years of operation, Enova is already delivering energy to about half of Byron Bay’s 3,000-plus households.

The company estimates that by 2018, Byron Bay users had saved 224,834 kWh energy per year, the equivalent to taking 576 cars off the road annually.

“The benefits of solar gardens are broad, but most importantly, they help make the rewards of renewable energy accessible,” said Enova Energy CEO Felicity Stening.

“We believe people who are priced out of owning a home, or in units who don’t have a roof top, should not be excluded.”

A spokesperson from Byron Shire Council said the Council views Enova’s project as ‘very exciting’, adding that “Council looks forward to seeing how it will benefit the community.”

Enova is planning to expand to QLD, Victoria and South Australia, and to retail electricity to commercial and industrial customers.