Tag 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.

Lane Cove Council’s Solar for Business Program

100% Renewables is assisting Lane Cove Council with the development and implementation of a solar feasibility program for business. The aim is to help local businesses take decisions to install solar PV at their premises. Council has feasibility funding available in the current financial year, and is aiming to see a number of commercial solar systems installed by the end of the financial year resulting from the program.

A key barrier to many businesses implementing solar is access to information, and in particular access to information they can trust. Council and independent expertise are seen as good sources of credible information in this regard.

A key challenge for a program to assist business to make decisions armed with sound information is cost, specifically being able to engage business, perform accurate analysis and provide a sound and independent business case for solar.

Through our solar feasibility assessments, development of specifications & procurement advice, and through implementation of sustainability programs for small business, 100% Renewables has refined our processes, aimed at reaching as many businesses as possible while providing sound advice that owners can act on.

Solar for Business Program – Lane Cove Council

Lane Cove Council’s “Solar for Business Program” is a free Council initiative to assist commercial and industrial businesses reduce their energy consumption, resulting in potentially thousands of dollars of savings per year. The aim of the Program is to assist businesses reduce their energy costs by providing a complimentary solar PV feasibility report. By joining the program, businesses will receive independent expert advice and an energy analysis and a solar feasibility study to identify opportunities to lower operating costs through installing solar panels.

Benefits of going solar

Reduced electricity bills

We will work closely with businesses in Lane Cove to understand their daytime and weekend energy consumption, as well as their building and electrical systems, so that we can develop a solar PV system that will be feasible for their business. Commercial buildings tend to benefit from installing solar PV mainly due to daytime business hours aligning with the solar array’s energy output. This ensures a reduction in total energy consumption, which reduces a business’ electricity bills.

Low maintenance costs and reliability

Solar PV systems are simple solutions that capture free energy from the sun for use in your property. Apart from basic annual maintenance, solar PV systems should continue to produce clean energy for over 25 years. Furthermore, most solar panels available in the industry have been certified to withstand different weather conditions, ensuring continuous reliability throughout its lifetime.

Financial advantages

By installing a solar system, your firm can minimise exposure to changes to grid electricity prices over time. Moreover, any excess generation from your system could be fed back to the grid and may attract a ‘feed-in’ rate from your electricity supplier, which is an additional revenue stream. Our report analyses the financial savings from installing a solar system, so that you can clearly see the payback to your business and the total savings over the life of the system.

Businesses can claim government incentives such as small-scale technology and large-scale generation certificates, making your investment financially attractive. For small systems less than 100 kW, your government credit is provided as an up-front discount, making a solar PV system cheaper to install.

Improvements in technology

The price of solar panels has fallen dramatically over the last decade with constant improvement in solar panel efficiency. This means you can harvest more renewable energy per panel, meaning you may still be able to save money even if you have a small roof space. We have also seen an improvement with power conversion units (inverters), which play a vital role in producing maximum energy output from your solar PV system at any point in time.

Environmental awareness

By committing to sustainability, you become a valued business in society. Through solar system installations, you grow your environmental credentials as well as save money, which would be highly regarded among your clients. Moreover, solar panels provide a great visual statement about your commitment to the environment. Your business will also play an integral role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by reducing your reliance on grid energy.

Who should apply?

We are looking for all commercial and industrial building owners and tenants that are committed to reducing their energy use and saving on operating costs. We encourage applications from all sizes of buildings, from small retail premises through to large warehouses with high energy bills.

We invite interested business owners and tenants in the Lane Cove LGA to submit an expression of interest. Successful applications will be those whose applications demonstrate high likelihood of implementing solar PV where this is shown to be cost-effective. Council is also interested in developing case studies for buildings who install solar as a result of the Program.

How can we help?

If you think your business could benefit from this program, please send an email to leslie@100percentrenewables.com.au or Complete the Solar for Business program expression of interest form.

Webform for registering your interest for a solar feasibility study sponsored by Lane Cove Council
Figure 1: Webform for registering your interest for a solar feasibility study sponsored by Lane Cove Council

To find out more, please visit www.lanecove.nsw.gov.au/solarforbusiness


100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their climate change strategies and action plans, and supporting the implementation and achievement of ambitious targets. If you need help to develop your Climate Change 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.