Category Archives: Renewable Energy

CORENA – How one dollar spent can fund emissions reduction projects multiple times [video and podcast]

Introducing our new ‘Driving Net Profit with Zero Emissions’ show

If you’re following our ’Driving Net Profit with Zero Emissions’ Youtube channel, you may have watched some of our video series, such as how to achieve Climate Active carbon-neutral certification, setting a Science-Based Target, or Net-Zero strategies.

Today, I’m proud and excited to introduce our very own Driving Net Profit with Zero Emissions show. This show will provide businesses with best-practice and cutting-edge ‘net-zero’ stories. I’ll be the main host, and in every show, I will interview climate action leaders.

Today, we are releasing the video and the accompanying blog post of the first episode, but soon, we’ll release our podcast, so please stay tuned.

Ep. #1 with Briony O’Shea

For the first episode of the “Driving Net Profit with Zero Emissions” show, I’m interviewing Briony O’Shea, the Chair of Corena. Briony is a chemical engineer with a Master of Laws in International Law. She specialises in renewable energy and future fuels such as hydrogen and biogas to support the transition to a low-carbon future. She joined Corena in 2017 as a volunteer and took over the role of Chair in 2020.

Corena is a community revolving energy fund, which takes donations from people or organisations in the community to drive emissions reduction via a Revolving Energy Fund.

I’ve blogged about Revolving Energy Funds in previous articles. These funds are a great mechanism to finance climate action strategies. They are a self-sustaining funding mechanism, which you start with seed capital that you invest in sustainability projects, such as energy efficiency, water conservation, or solar projects, for example.

The fund’s unique feature is that you return savings from sustainability projects back into the REF to finance the next round of investments. In this way, you can spend funds multiple times to drive emissions reduction, resource and cost savings.

You can watch the full video of the interview here:

What is Corena?

Corena is a grass-root, donor-funded, not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers. The premise of the Corena model is a revolving fund to which supporters donate, and the provision of zero-interest loans to not-for-profit and community organisations to implement climate action projects. Examples of funded projects are installing solar panels, improving energy efficiency, switching away from fossil gas use, or purchasing electric vehicles.

To date, Corena has implemented over 40 projects Australia-wide, with most projects being solar PV installations and energy efficiency. Altogether, 663 kW of solar PV have been installed, generating over 1,800 MWh of renewable electricity. Corena has received donations of over $460,000, and because of the revolving nature of the fund, these donations have resulted in over $800,000 in loans given. They’re on track to exceed $1 million of loans given this year.

How does it work?

Corena raises funds to support climate action projects via donations from anyone keen to help tackle climate change. Corena provides zero-interest loans to community organisations to install solar PV or implement other climate action projects. As these loans are paid off by the recipient with the savings from their solar project, the money is re-loaned to another organisation.

What are the benefits?

There are several benefits for everyone involved. For Corena, every project they support is making a tangible difference in reducing emissions. The money donated is put to work immediately to reduce carbon emissions, and the donors can track the impact each investment makes.

For donors, the revolving fund model means that the money they donate for one project is repaid and goes on to fund another project, so a single donation amount can be utilised multiple times. Corena has an impact calculator on its website that demonstrates the revolving benefit of the donations they’ve received.

For the recipient organisation, there’s not only the benefit of themselves being able to be part of the climate solution and take direct action, but in doing so, they receive the benefits of reduced energy bills, which contributes to their bottom line.

What kind of organisations can make use of the funds?

Corena provides loans predominantly to not-for-profit organisations that don’t have easy access to funding to take climate action. Corena also looks at what service the organisation is providing the community. Corena goes through a process of assessing what each organisation’s needs are, and what projects or installations might benefit the organisation.

How can you apply for a zero-interest loan?

You are eligible to apply for a Corena loan if you are a non-profit community organisation, or if you are providing services to your community. A solar project may be suitable if your premises have regular daytime use, your roof is in good condition, and you either own your premises or have a secure long-term lease. An electric vehicle project may be suitable if you have vehicles with regular high usage.

To apply for a project loan, please go to Corena’s website, fill in and submit the online Expression of Interest form.

How can people participate?

If you want to support Corena, there are several ways how you can be involved.

  • Individuals: You can donate to the revolving fund, by visiting corenafund.org.au and choosing to donate to a project. You can elect to join as a volunteer, and there are many ways that volunteers can donate their time, whether it’s to provide social media support, IT, developing communications materials, or offering to approach other organisations to help identify new projects to fund. Individuals can also lobby their local government to take action by setting up a revolving energy fund for the community.
  • Organisations: You can donate to Corena, or you can identify climate action projects that Corena could fund. You can also help by fundraising via your own networks.
  • Local governments: You can donate, identify not-for-profit organisations within your community, and potentially on council premises, that would benefit from a Corena loan, and help connect with those organisations. You can also adopt the Corena model and set up your own fund to provide interest-free loans to residents or organisations within your community to take climate action. The Corena model is particularly useful for councils that have declared a climate emergency.

People can get in touch via Corena’s website and subscribe to Corena via email, eNews, or social media. You can also send a direct email to Briony@corenafund.org.au or office@corenafund.org.au.

To view or download this episode’s show notes/transcript, please click here.

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their climate action strategies and accompanying financing plans. If you need help with developing your climate action plan, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.

The top 23 Australian universities for climate action commitments in 2021

In addition to tracking ambitious commitments of local governments and communities, 100% Renewables has been tracking carbon and renewable energy commitments made by Australia’s public tertiary education sector since 2017.

Our first University-related blog post published actions and commitments of several universities that demonstrated sustainable energy leadership. We highlighted examples of leading clean energy and low carbon research, divestments from fossil fuels, and examples of universities’ targets and actions to reduce their carbon footprint.

In 2020, we published a blog post series on a number of sustainability leadership topics that are relevant to the tertiary education sector:

  1. Commitments, actions and achievements of 14 leading universities across Australia
  2. Universities with Green Star certified buildings
  3. Universities that are signatories to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  4. Universities with fossil fuel divestment commitments

This blog post revisits ambitious climate action commitments made by universities and provides an updated list. Since our 2020 blog post series, nine more universities have committed to ambitious goals, and several others have increased their climate ambition. A total of 23 out of 40 universities have now committed to ambitious climate action targets.

Below are some examples:

Out of the 23 universities in the ambitious commitments list, 11 have committed to 100% renewable energy on or before 2030, 11 have committed to carbon neutrality on or before 2030, and 7 have committed to net-zero GHG emissions targets on or before 2050.

Top 23 universities’ 100% renewable energy and carbon neutrality/net-zero commitments

Carbon neutral, net zero and 100% renewables commitments by Australian universities as at Feb 2021 (map)
Figure 1: Carbon neutral, net zero and 100% renewables commitments by Australian universities as at Feb 2021

Below is a list of 23 leading universities in Australia that have demonstrated sustainable energy leadership with their ambitious commitments to 100% renewable energy or carbon neutrality/net-zero emissions.

NoStateUniversityRenewable energy CommitmentCarbon neutrality commitment
1ACTAustralian National UniversityIncrease renewable energy generation by 50 percent by 2021Decrease total carbon emissions by 30 per cent by 2021
Minimising the University's greenhouse gas emissions footprint through its own operations, in line with commitments to be greenhouse gas negative as soon as possible
2NSWAustralian Catholic University100% renewable electricity by July 2021Net zero emissions by 2030
3NSWCharles Sturt University100% clean energy by 2030First university to obtain NCOS/Climate Active-accredited carbon neutral status in 2016
4NSWMacquarie UniversityUniversity’s total greenhouse gas emissions cut by 92 per cent, with the campus’ electricity being sourced from Snowy Hydro from 1 July 2020Aim of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 40% by 2030
5NSWUniversity of NewcastleDeliver 100% renewable electricity across our Newcastle and Central Coast campuses from 1 January 2020Achieve carbon neutrality by 2025
6NSWUniversity of New South Wales100% renewable electricity by 2020Carbon neutrality on energy use by 2020
7NSWUniversity of Sydney100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025Net zero emissions by 2030
8NSWWestern Sydney University100% renewable energy by 2025Net-zero GHG emissions target by 2030
9QLDCQ University50 percent of its energy for its Queensland campuses sourced from renewable solar from 2021Aim at reducing carbon emissions
10QLDGriffith University45-50% emissions reduction against a 2010 baseline by 2030
Net zero emissions by 2050
11QLDUniversity of Queensland100% renewable energy by 2020Reduction in the university’s carbon footprint
12QLDUniversity of the Sunshine CoastLarge-scale solar PV and thermal storage at Sippy Downs campusCarbon neutral by 2025
13QLDUniversity of Southern QueenslandCommitted to achieve 100% renewable energy by installing a Sustainable Energy SolutionCarbon neutral by 2020
14SAFlinders UniversityGenerate 30% of our energy needs from renewable sourcesAchieve zero net emissions
from electricity by 2021
15SAUniversity of Adelaide2MW of renewable energy installed by 2020
15% reduction in Energy intensity
(GJ/GFA m2) by 2020 (2014 baseline)
Net zero emissions by 2050
16TASUniversity of TasmaniaEnsure efficacious energy management and contribute to the Tasmanian Government 2022 target to be a 100% renewable-energy-powered StateCarbon neutral certified since 2016
17VICDeakin UniversitySustainable microgrid systems in the community and their effective integration with existing energy networksCarbon neutral by 2030
18VICLa Trobe UniversityRenewable energy project will increase our solar generation by 200%Carbon neutral by 2029 and our regional campuses are set to become carbon neutral by 2022.
19VICRMIT University100% renewable energy from 2019Carbon neutral by 2030
20VICMonash University100% renewable energy by 2030Net zero carbon emissions from Australian campuses by 2030
21VICSwinburne University of TechnologyCommit to 100 per cent renewable energy procurement by 31 July 2020Carbon neutral by 2025
22VICUniversity of MelbourneAchieve zero net emissions
from electricity by 2021
Achieve carbon neutrality
before 2030
Reduce emissions by 20,000 tonnes of carbon per year by 2020 through on-campus energy projects
23WAUniversity of Western Australia100% renewable energy by 2025Energy carbon neutral by 2025

100% Renewables has been pleased to support a number of these institutions with the development and delivery of their renewable energy and carbon abatement programs.

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their renewable energy strategies and action plans. If you need help with developing your climate action strategy, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.