Category Archives: Regional energy

Give the gift of solar

CANWin is joining with Repower Southern Highlands to help fund a solar power system for Challenge Southern Highlands.

Challenge runs the Welby Garden Centre near Mittagong, and does wonderful work providing training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Repower and CANWin are calling for donations from the community to help raise $10,000 on behalf of Challenge Southern Highlands.

CANWin has agreed to match donations up to a total of $5000. This means that for every $100 you donate, CANWin will match it with another $100.

Your donation will assist with the installation of a 12KW solar system at the Challenge SH facility in Welby, contributing to substantial savings in electricity and helping our environment!

How to donate

Challenge Southern Highlands – PO Box 1193 Bowral NSW 2576.
For deductions the Deductible Gift Recipient Number is SSO/ADVR/GF0283 and their Authority to Fundraise Number is: CFN10487

Direct Deposit:

BSB: 802 101
ACCOUNT NO: 100031037 REF: ([your name] Challenge Solar)

For more information

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Guest Speaker Forum – Battery Energy storage: Technology options and economic considerations

NBatt Speaker 110316

How and why of fossil-fuel freedom

Two great events this weekend: Friday’s CANWin speaker forum shows us how to get to fossil-fuel freedom; on Saturday afternoon Robertson CTC showcases the at-risk wonders of icy Antarctica.

Flier for speaker night 27 Feb.

Antarctica: A photographic journey

Glenn Dawson is a freelance photographer specialising in wildlife and nature. He and his cameras have made four trips to the Arctic, Alaska and Canada. Penguins with chicks He has also travelled twice to Africa to work and photograph wildlife and landscape. Robertson is to be treated to a presentation by Glenn, sharing his love and knowledge of the Antarctic, and other lands he has visited with a focus on nature, wildlife and cultures. Suitable for all ages.

Saturday 28th February, 3pm – 5pm; tickets $10. For bookings, contact the CTC, tel. 02 4885 2665.

Electric Communities

A version of this article appeared in the Southern Highland News, 9 October 2013. More articles from the CANWin column.

Petition to fund community energy

Click the image for information about more Australian community energy projects

We’re used to thinking of electricity as big and centralised. It’s generated by a few big corporations that trade with each other through the big power network. We buy it from businesses that are so big they use computerised people to answer their phones.

But does electricity have to be big business? Not any more. Renewables can put power into the hands of communities.

Community power, or community energy, are general names for various ways that groups of people are pooling their resources (such as space, money, and skills) into shared renewable energy projects.

Hepburn Wind, near Daylesford in Victoria, is a high-profile Australian example, but community power doesn’t have to mean wind power. The new Sydney International Convention, Exhibition and Entertainment Precinct at Darling Harbour will include a rooftop community solar park. It will enable inner-city residents who are renters or who do not have the roof space to invest in the technology.

Community energy projects are under way in many Australian regions too. Close to home, Wagga Wagga City Council has agreed to provide their energy usage data and site access to establish whether there is a sound economic and environmental case for the Council to host a community-owned solar farm. Riverina Community Solar Farm aims to find up to five hosts for solar systems, and a group on the Central Coast is investigating solar and biogas options.

A clever way to help cash-strapped community groups go renewable is through CORENA, the Citizens Owned Renewable Energy Network. CORENA is a not-for-profit that uses donations from the public to fund practical renewable energy projects. Electricity sales and loan repayments from completed projects finance future projects, thus continuously recycling donated money. In their own words, CORENA “… is people power reaching far into the future”.

You can donate to small or large projects through the CORENA website at

Working out the financial and governance arrangements for community power takes significant effort. Most groups set themselves up as co-operatives, drawing on the century of experience developed by co-operatives in other fields. Information and help is also available from Embark Australia, a privately-funded not-for-profit that is “…working to shift the community energy sector into the mainstream, as a proven and financially viable model capable of attracting large-scale investment and growing to meet its full potential.”

For more information about community energy, see the websites of:
Climate Rescue of Wagga
Renew Economy

His energy, our need

Misdirected energy can be destructive. Redirecting it can work wonders.

Let’s work more wonders on the Highlands.

Clean Energy: Everybody’s Doing It

Stylised Sun radiating in 4 directionsCoal and oil fuels are dinosaurs that hold media and market attention because they’re huge. But while the dinosaurs rampage, all around them thousands of people are entering the new era: the age of clean, inexhaustible energy. In the words of grass-roots organisation 100% Renewable:

Right now Australia faces a choice: we can continue our dependence on fossil fuels, keep mining and burning coal, keep polluting our air and water. We can keep damaging our farmland and heath, be left behind the rest of the world on investment and face an uncertain future with an unstable climate. Or we can make the switch to 100% clean renewable energy, creating a safer, healthier happier future for all.

The excitement of this new era is palpable in the planning for 100% Renewable’s 2-day Big Solar Boot Camp at Port Hacking on the weekend 11-12 February 2012. The programme concentrates on community action: how to make the clean energy message heard above the ruckus of the dinosaurs.

We saw the urgent demand for renewable energy in Wingecarribee shire at CANWin’s Clean Energy workshop last year. Plans such as Zero Carbon Australia 2020 and Sustainable Energy Australia show the ways 100% clean energy can be achieved in less than 10 years.

Big Solar is about solar-powered electricity generators on the same scale as coal-fired power stations. Big solar is one of the technologies that is making coal-fired power redundant. CANWin, along with hundreds of other groups in the Climate Action and 100% Renewable networks, can force governments to learn that the coal-fired dinosaur’s day is done.

Want to reduce your electricity bills?

CANWin can help. We are offering a series of free workshops on ways to reduce your energy bills.

The workshops are part of the CSIRO Energymark program. They consist of eight sessions, held about two weeks apart.

You will receive your own copy of the CSIRO Home Energy Saving Handbook and build on it to:
Cover of CSIRO Home Energy Saving Handbook

  • Identify ways to reduce your energy consumption
  • Develop an action plan to save on power bills
  • Learn more about energy and climate change issues
  • Find and discuss how to lower our carbon footprint at home, at work and in our Highlands communities.

The groups will be small so that everyone can have their say with a minimum of pressure: local people talking about what matters to us in Wingecarribee.

Schedule and location will depend on what suits most participants.

Sign up now or ask for more information: just email Tim Edwards at email hidden; JavaScript is required

Check out the program at

Draft guidelines for wind farm developments in NSW

Two days before Christmas NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard released a draft of “the toughest guidelines in the world” for wind farm developments in this State (details of where to find a copy at the end of this post). CANWin member David Tranter kicks off our discussions in this post. You can click “Leave a comment” (under the title) to add your thoughts.

The  NSW Government Draft Wind Turbine Strategy states that it supports Australia’s commitment to deliver 20% of the nation’s energy needs by 2020. If this is true, then the primary goal of the strategy should be to establish a level playing field. Up till now, fossil fuel industries have been implicitly subsidized by allowing them to offload their environmental costs to society.

The Government’s proposed Wind Farm Strategy doesn’t just perpetuate that inequity; it exacerbates it. It proposes an elaborate system of regulations for wind farms, which is not applied in equal measure to fossil fuel industries and will eventually prove to be counter-productive. How could any reasonable person believe that a wind turbine is more unsightly than high voltage transmission towers and power lines snaking inexorably across the rural landscape? Continue reading