Solar Power

Breaking News ~ Special Solar Power Offer Launches at SLEx'10

A special on Sharp Solar Power Systems was launched at the Sustainable Living Expo 2010. The heavily discounted prices ~ more than one-third below retail ~ have been made possible by favourable exchange rates and a bulk order through Farming the Sun.

This heavily discounted pricing is available on 500 x 180W sharp Solar Modules, to be allocated on a first in first served basis.

These systems are suited to either a new installation or upgrading an existing system to a larger size.

For full details or to place an order go to AusEnergy, the solar power partner for Farming the Sun.

More details about the solar power stream of Farming the Sun are provided below.

First Sun-Tracking Solar Farm Installed: Eulalia, Armidale


Significantly discounted Solar Power Systems are available through the Farming the Sun initiative. Savings of more than 60% off full retail prices are available when combined with the range of further incentives and bonuses now available:

  • NSW Solar Bonus Scheme paying for electricity generated starting 1 January 2010;
  • Solar Credits on the first 1.5kW of new solar power installed; and,
  • Renewable Energy Certificates.

Various solar power packages are available (pictured right) - including the Trina Value and Kyocera Premium systems.


Solar Power was the original and first offer in the Farming the Sun initiative:

  1. The first round offer was based upon the Australian Government $8,000 rebate and some 115 residents successfully applied. This level of take up equalled a tripling of the amount of grid connected solar power previously installed across in the New England Region.
  2. The second round focussed on large scale solar farms, utilising the Australian Government Economic Stimulus Package which ended on 31 December 2010. In a very short four week burst a further 100kW of solar power was committed, nearly doubling again the amount of renewable energy generated through this community enterprise.
  3. The third round focussed especially on the NSW Solar Bonus Scheme, where homes, businesses and farms are being paid a feed in tariff for the renewable energy they produce. This Scheme can into effect on 1 January 2010.
  4. The current offer which was launched as part of the Sustainable Living Expo 2010 and is based upon a heavily discounted bulk purchase of high quality Sharp solar panels.

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

Apply for your Solar Power System here.

Terms, Conditions & Eligibility Criteria

  • These offers are available to New England small businesses, farms and residents within the Armidale, Guyra, Uralla and Walcha local government areas.
  • Standard pricing includes installation locations within 15km of the town centres of Armidale, Guyra, Uralla and Walcha.
  • Full Solar Power Terms, Conditions & Eligibility Criteria

More information about the Solar Power Project:

Armidale Indpendent Coverage of Quadrupling of Solar Power
iPrime News Coverage of Armidale Launch
Media Release for Launch of Solar Region Project

Following are the details from the preliminary meeting of key stakeholders was held on Monday 3 November 2008 at Uralla Shire Council to discuss making the New England a "Solar Region".

Keen interest was expressed in further investigating a 'whole of community' regional model of offering domestic solar systems to New England Residents for less than half the normal retail price. NESSiE were approached by AusEnergy during the build up to the New England Sustainability Forum. AusEnergy had observed the significant community activity around climate change and sustainability in the Region and felt it may be prime for the implementation of this community model.

NESSiE would like to thank Uralla Shire Council for generous support in hosting this meeting.

The summary of the discussions from the meeting follow below.

Peter Bloomfield - land holder, interest in solar/sustainable energy and architecture
Patsy Asch - founder of Sustainable Living Armidale, interest in passive solar design, Energy Group (part of SLA) working on modest projects and regional possibilities
Mahalath Halperin - holistic architecture, ISES, ANZSES, CANA and CAN, interest in PVs and Solar HWS
Joc Coventry - agriculture and retail, involved with SLEx and SLA
Jo Leoni - member of SLA and Energy Group, interest in sustainability
John Johnson - interest in solar and why such a slow take up, looking at PVs on roof, electric cars (Australian Transport Museum), SLA and Energy Group, wonder about BASIX
Jack Arnold - built passive solar house 35 years ago, industrial development in Uralla and want to encourage solar, member of SLA, interest in electric vehicles too
Mike Brooks - stand alone solar house, ADC ozone plant (high energy) - potential for offset/renewables (mini hydro)
Euan Belson - Armidale Dumaresq Environmental Health Manager, SLEx presenter on renewable energy and rebates, Domestic Energy Working Party, energy most significant issue for NER, interest in the 'doing', making it happen, looking at options
Alex Pawlow - DSRD, looking at today to learn
Warren Sellings - Manager of Building & Environmental Services Uralla Shire, observer today
Richard Croft - interest in solar, commercial viability lacking, farmer groups representative, timber not becoming commercial due to skewed market, looking at carbon sequestration, alternative sources of power (solar, biogen)
Robert Spreadborough - designed solar systems (Lawn Hill NP), Deputy Mayor Uralla, Electrical contractor (heavy industrial, mining), Alternative energy is a key issue - solar, waste heat, newer technology (sliver, organic voltaics). Need to alleviate our carbon footprint, LED lighting systems, Uralla could buy in builk, best PV for here and organise installs. Note that higher power costs are coming with carbon taxes.
Adam Blakester - convenor of New England Sustainability Strategy, leading issue and strategic focus is 'future of energy' including solar and other renewable sources.

AusEnergy Presentation - Key Points

  • Regional community clustering enables affordable costs for 1kW solar systems
  • Proposed package includes Wattson energy metering system which can be integrated to a web portal for the New England Region showing solar power produced/used
  • Uncertain how long Australian Government rebate ($8,000) will continue (as heavily oversubscribed) so window of opportunity might be short
  • Community cluster pricing around $2k fully installed, with metering compared with standard pricing of $6-8k (this is based upon being entitled to Australian Government rebate and on selling Renewable Energy Credits)
  • Payback period on this investment - based on saved energy costs - is only 5-6 years, with 20 years of warrantied solar power still to run
  • AusEnergy have demonstrated value of community clustering and proven administrative systems in Beaudesert demonstration project
  • Goal is 400 systems - 1% of residents of NESAC region - however installations can occur in lots of 20-50 each time deposits are made

Matters Raised during AusEnergy Presentation

  • What about low cost/green loans? Rumoured $10k low interest/zero interest green loans are coming next year.
  • What are options for low income households?
  • Could Uralla be a 'model' for future community solar projects?
  • What about central installation of solar for multiple users? Point made this would not qualify for rebate.
  • Discussion of sale of RECs vs environmental benefit. Point made that this should be a clearly articulated and explained option for householders, encouraging them to not sell their RECs (and so require commercial enterprises to generate more renewable energy)
  • What about qualified installers in Region? TAFE have been approached to provide accreditation
  • Other community projects mentioned including Towong Council, VIC (Zen) and Lismore
  • Point made that local government/council trust/involvement is key for this project
  • Australian Government support for energy audits are likely next year. Point was made that energy audits should be the first step before installing solar system as reducing demand is a key step
  • Set criteria for the community package is key
  • Possible role for local government is promotion (NSW Government may have grants available to promote this kind of project, like was the case for the ceiling insulation campaign done by ADC)
  • There is uncertainty about how long the Australian Government rebate will continue - end of financial year (30 June 2009) is consensus end point
  • Solar HWS would be an ideal community project as well

Matters for Action

  • Identify breakdown of NER energy/CO2 footprint

(Editor added link, see )

  • Seek NESAC initiative/support as ideal
  • Seek formal presentation to Uralla Council
  • Set up a NECU/Trust Account for all financial matters to ensure accountability
  • Verify Country Energy conditions
  • Clearly document the project model
  • Identify and seek partnerships (TAFE, NESAC, SLA, etc)
  • Find the electricians and installers and arrange accreditation
  • Integrate energy auditing
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