Farming The Sun

The purpose of Farming the Sun is to significantly increase the understanding, affordability & take-up of renewable & sustainable energy throughout Australia's High Country and contribute to a vision of the New England being a sustainable region with a thriving new energy future.

There are currently three forms of solar technology available through Farming the Sun:

  1. Solar Power
  2. Evacuated Tube Solar Hot Water
  3. Solar Thermal Heating & Cooling

This community enterprise was the first major initiative to address a strategic priority from the New England Sustainability Strategy (NESS) – particularly addressing the need for renewable and sustainable energy (New Energy Future) and building regenerative jobs, business and economics (Regional Regeneration).

In the last 18 months there has been a massive take-up of solar energy across the New England, particularly solar power and hot water, with some 270kW new solar power, more than 120 evacuated tube solar hot water systems plus 145 Sustainable Home Assessments.

More recently the first large solar farms have been installed, the largest to date being 10kW in size, and the first sophisticated systems using tracking systems that tilt the solar panels to follow the sun from dawn to dusk, increasing performance by 25-30%.

The reasons for this rapid community take up include:

  • Protection from rising electricity prices by producing energy on-site;
  • Shifting to renewable, sustainable and locally produced energy and away from traditional centralised sources that are threatening water systems, agricultural landscapes and the climate; and,
  • Generating passive income and accessing rebates and other incentives.

The outcomes to date of Farming the Sun include:

  • 180+ Pv Systems & 270kW+ – residential, farms, government & business (500% of Baseline)
  • 120+ SHW Systems – residential & government
  • 145+ Home Sustainability Assessments
  • $4m+ project value
  • 3 new solar companies in Region
  • Systems 20-50% more affordable
  • Training for 30+ tradespeople
  • Substantial community education

The Fourth Wave of Farming the Sun was launched with a series of four Community Information Sessions across the New England Region from 29-31 March 2010. For more details see the Media Release.


Farming the Sun uses a 'community enterprise' structure. This means it is a 'for purpose' rather than for 'profit' meaning that the money is for fair pay for goods and services. The initiative is undertaken by a partner network of community stakeholders to build social, economic and environmental value. Substantial savings are being achieved through the community enterprise structure - buying systems and equipment in bulk, clustering of installations and using only free marketing and promotion with the support of an extensive network of Project Partners. Being transparent and accountable is key for such an enterprise, especially for the finances which will be independently audited.

Well Below Retail Prices

Savings of up to 60% off normal retail prices are available for packages of solar power, solar hot water, and Solar Thermal Heating & Cooling. See details of Terms & Conditions below.

In addition to the significant savings through the Farming the Sun community enterprise other incentives to go solar include:
* NSW Solar Bonus Scheme paying for electricity generated which began 1 January 2010;
* Solar Credits on the first 1.5kW of new solar power installed;
* Rebates for converting from electric to solar hot water; and,
* Renewable Energy Certificates.

A copy of the slide show with information about Farming the Sun and the solar systems on offer can be downloaded by clicking on the below image (pdf file, 3Mb size).


Register your Interest and Apply NOW

To discuss this further or register your interest contact:
Liz Gardiner, Co-Coordinator (02) 6778-7249 moc.liamtoh|1renidragzil#moc.liamtoh|1renidragzil
Adam Blakester, Convenor (02) 6775 2501 0419 808 900 gro.sesirpretnehsifrats|mada#gro.sesirpretnehsifrats|mada

** Details of Solar Air Heating Systems here.**

Apply for your Solar Power System here.

Apply for your Solar Hot Water System here.

Terms, Conditions & Eligibility Criteria

More About the Farming the Sun Initiative

The Farming the Sun initiative is organised using 'community enterprise' structure, that is defined by being:

  • For 'purpose' rather than for 'profit' meaning that the money is for fair pay for goods and services;
  • Undertaken by a partner network of community stakeholders to build social, economic and environmental value; and,
  • Transparent and accountable, especially for the finances.

The community enterprise approach achieves a high level of affordability which is further enhanced by:

  • “Bulk buying” of systems and equipment and “Clustering” installations; and,
  • All marketing and promotion via the partner network and word of mouth.

Farming the Sun is the first major initiative coming out of the New England Sustainability Strategy and aims to address the priority issue of creating a "New Energy Future" for the sustainability of the Region.

Here is a copy of the presentation about Farming the Sun given at the 2010 North Coast Energy Forum:

Honours Thesis

Farming the Sun was the subject of an honours thesis by Jarra Hicks. Jarra particularly investigated the role of local responses to climate change, such as Farming the Sun.

Read the Summary can be downloaded by clicking on the below image (pdf file, 180kb size).


And the Full Thesis (pdf file, 659kb size).

Members of the Partner Network are:


AusEnergy is a small and independent Australian company that works to enable regions to boost their renewable energy output, whilst training local trades people and equipping them with the skills and technological framework to grow and maintain their local industry.

Profits are funnelled into ongoing research and development.

AusEnergy's role is to provide the technical coordination and administration of the solar power systems, organise local training and coordinate all installation work.


SolaMate uses solar energy for heating and can reduce heating requirements by more than 50%. SolaMate is proudly Australian made, developed for Australian conditions and manufactured locally.

SolaMate's role is to provide the technical coordination for the solar air heating systems and monitoring of the demonstration sites, support local training courses, coordinate installations.


Endless Solar is committed to delivering the best renewable energy technologies to help meet Australia's daily energy needs by providing a range of world-class and highly cost-effective solar hot water solutions that deliver major cuts in energy use and in greenhouse emissions!

Endless Solar's role is to administer the Solar Hot Water Systems, organise local training courses and actively seeks the co operation of the region's industry and tradespeople for all installation work.


The New England Mutual (Previously New England Credit Union) are the official Finance Partner and provide the Green Loan for new and existing members to purchase solar systems.


TAFE New England Institute
TAFE have provided facilities for the local solar installation training for local industry, tradespeople and apprentices to gain qualifications and progress towards becoming fully accredited solar system installers.


Southern New England Landcare
Southern New England Landcare (SNELCC) are a member of the New England Sustainability Strategy Executive (NESSiE) and Community Partner of the Solar Region Project. SNELCC are supporting the Project to increase rural participation.


G.J. Gardner Homes, New England
G.J. Gardner Homes has over 25,000 homes worth of experience with a reputation for building quality homes on time and on budget. Today, there are more than 85 G.J. Gardner Homes building franchises operating throughout Australia and New Zealand, Germany, South Africa and America, supported by 10 Master Franchises.


Talloires Declaration has the role of building capacity and commitment at UNE in order to enhance environmental literacy and to achieve greater environmental sustainability by implementing the Talloires Declaration.

The Talloires Declaration are supporting the promotion of the Solar New England Region Project through UNE and their broader professional networks.


Hone's Plumbing, and principal Adam Hone, are a key member of the team of qualified specialist local installers. Local training and accreditation has been provided to ensure that the key role of installation and service is able to be handled by local tradespeople.

Hone's Plumbing are an installer of choice for both the Endless-Solar evacuated tube hot water system and the SolaMate solar thermal air heating and cooling system.

Hone's Plumbing also support Farming the Sun by providing delivery and storage facilities for bulk shipments.

ParadigmPlay is a freelance social change consultancy network led by local resident Adam Blakester.

ParadigmPlay is responsible for regional coordination of the Project.


Pete Arkins Creative Media
Pete Arkins is a local digital media specialist who has created the branding and marketing campaign for the Solar Project.

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