Australia’s Second Community Wind Farm is Live

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Australia’s second community wind farm ~ Denmark Community Wind Farm ~ has officially started producing energy. Denmark follows Hepburn Wind which was Australia’s first, and both are leading more than five dozen other community energy projects which are under development across Australia. Most of these have a solar focus, however there are also several more wind farms and a few micro-hydro.

Community energy presents an incredible opportunity for rural communities. Locally owned energy brings significant economic and financial benefits, for local shareholders, supply businesses and the energy users. Renewable energy is profoundly more environmentally benign that existing fossil fuel electricity and the social dividends are significant, particularly from the focus on energy affordability and education rather than profit.

Starfish is working on several community energy projects: New England Wind, Farming the Sun, the North Coast Energy Forum and is a founding member of the Coalition for Community Energy (watch this space for news of this new initiative soon!).

Read more about Denmark Community Wind Farm here

Artist Matt Hope adjusts the helmet linked to his air filtration bike in front of the China Central Television (CCTV) building on a hazy day in Beijing, March 26, 2013. Photo: Petar Kujundzic

United Nations ~ Air pollution scourge underestimated, clean energy can help

Air pollution is an underestimated scourge that kills far more people than AIDS and malaria and a shift to cleaner energy could easily halve the toll by 2030, U.N. officials said on Tuesday.

Investments in solar, wind or hydropower would benefit both human health and a drive by almost 200 nations to slow climate change, blamed mainly on a build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from use of fossil fuels, they said.

A 2012 World Health Organization (WHO) study found that 3.5 million people die early annually from indoor air pollution and 3.3 million from outdoor air pollution. Toxic particles shorten lives by causing diseases such as pneumonia or cancer.

“The problem has been underestimated in the past,” Maria Neira, the WHO’s director of public health and environment, told Reuters.

“If we increase access to clean energy … the health benefits will be enormous. Maybe the health argument was not used enough” in debate on encouraging a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energies, she said.

Starfish is working on a number of community-owned clean energy initiatives. The combined economic, health and environmental benefits of this model make it one of the most valuable components for rural sustainability.

Find out more…
Source: PlanetArk

Community Ownership Transforming our Energy Systems

Cooperatives Driving the New EconomyCharles Cotton never gave much thought to the fact that he owns a piece of Jackson Energy Cooperative, the utility that delivers power to his home in Berea, Ky. His grandparents used to go every year to the co-op’s annual meeting and cook-out, where member-owners elect representatives and vote on cooperative business, but Cotton himself has never gone. He uses Jackson Energy simply because it’s the only utility serving his region.

But last November, Cotton’s membership paid off in a way he hadn’t expected: The cooperative gave him an energy upgrade, installing a plastic moisture barrier underneath his house and replacing his old furnace with an efficient heat pump. Cotton’s home now feels warmer and his electric bills have dropped significantly, but he never paid a dime up front.

Jackson Energy’s status as a cooperative led directly to Cotton’s retrofit.

Starfish’s community energy initiatives: Farming the Sun, New England Wind, North Coast Energy Forum
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Source: Yes!

Feldheim ~ Germany’s energy self-sufficient village

Nations as diverse as North Korea and the United States have sent delegations to visit a tiny village in former East Germany to see how it has transformed the way it uses energy.

A 60-minute drive south of Berlin and home to about 125 people, Feldheim is Germany’s first and only energy self-sufficient village and attracts both international energy experts and politicians.

“We’re seen as pioneers and the world wants to know whether they can duplicate our success,” said Joachim Gebauer, a 55-year-old former teacher who guides visitors through the remote hamlet.

“No coal or gas is burned here, it’s all clean.”

Instead, Feldheim is powered by a mix of 43 wind turbines, a woodchip-fired heating plant and a biogas plant that uses cattle and pig slurry as well as maize silage.

Local energy costs of 16.6 euro cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) are just a little more than half of the 27-30 cents Germans pay on average, according to the New Energies Forum Feldheim, an information center.

Starfish is working with the New England High Country and NSW North Coast regions to create sustainable energy systems with high levels of local community ownership. See New England Wind, Farming the Sun and North Coast Energy Forum.

Find out more…
Source: PlanetArk

Economics word cloud from ABS analysis of Australia's 55 regional development plans

Australia’s Regional Development Priorities

The Australian Bureau of Statistics have completed an analysis of Australia’s regional development priorities and challenges. This analysis has been based upon the 55 regional development plans prepared from each of the members of Regional Development Australia.

The findings from their analysis include:
– the need to diversify regional economies
– recognition of climate change as a key challenge
– the priority for meeting education and health needs
– youth development being a priority
– infrastructure needs are paramount

Starfish facilitated the large-scale participatory planning for the Northern Inland (NSW) Regional Development Plan.

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North Coast Energy Forum: Lismore

CLAIM THE DATE ||| 31 May 2013 |||

The North Coast Energy Forum is back this year and will be holding a day-long forum in Lismore 31 May. The goal of this grassroots initiative, founded in 2010, is to help the North Coast “grow its own” sustainable energy system.

“After two highly successful events in Bellingen in 2010 and Mullumbimby in 2011 we thought it was time to take a step back and see how things developed locally”, said forum convenor Mark Byrne.

Starfish is a long-term partner of the Forum, a member of the Organising Committee and Forum Facilitator.

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Plans Unveiled for 400kW Community Solar Park

The first large community solar project in the city of Sydney is to be unveiled today when the not-for-profit community advisory group Embark and property giant Lend Lease announce plans for a 400kW rooftop solar PV system in the convention centre to be built in Darling Harbour.

The Sydney Community Solar project is the first of a number of projects currently being negotiated or advised by Embark. This includes similar deals with project developers in major cities, ranging in size from 100kW to several hundred kWs, as well as a series of installation on commercial rooftops in regional NSW being proposed by Starfish Enterprises, in conjunction with Embark.

Find out more…
Source: ReNew Economy

How communities can take lead in green energy

The Middlegrunden wind farm in Denmark was the first offshore wind farm to be owned by a community-based co-operative.

Community ownership [of renewable energy] is common in Europe and other countries. In Germany and Denmark, the countries with the most ambitious renewable policies, it is a fundamental part of their clean energy strategy. Even if the numbers in dollar terms are relatively small, it has granted the social licence to invest the hundreds of billions necessary for the clean energy transformation.

But in Australia, it is a resource that is largely untouched…

That may be about to change. In the next few weeks, a NSW organization hopes to unveil plans for up to ten community-owned solar installations totalling 1MW of installed capacity across the state.

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Community Renewable Energy ~ Challenges & Opportunities

28 active Australian community renewable energy projects (CRE), including New England Wind and Farming the Sun, participated in this research.

The highest density of Australian projects is in Victoria and NSW, and the majority of groups are currently in the early stages of project development. Over a half of the projects are solar PV and a third are wind energy. The remainder are as yet undecided, but options include are various forms of bio energy.

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