Community owned renewable energy is a great way to produce local jobs and profits, have action on global warming and increase social cohesion. Thousands of Australian’s could potentially own and benefit from community renewable energy opportunities, although our full potential in this arena has barely been realised as often there is a lack of funding to monitor appropriate locations. The SODAR wind monitoring unit may act as a game changer empowering communities to take planning and development of renewables into their own hands.
Embark Australia launched an exciting new national wind monitoring program for communities last week in Armidale, with the first deployment of a state-of the-art SODAR monitoring unit.
New England Wind (NEW) is the first community group to participate in the program, made possible through funding from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network (AEGN). They will now undertake a year-long monitoring program across multiple sites in the New England region.
Many communities are inspired by the success of Hepburn Wind, Australia’s first community-owned wind farm. However, one of the key barriers for community wind development is a lack of funding to conduct wind monitoring. This new, low cost rental program for community groups provides access to high quality and bankable wind data for feasibility analysis. This will strengthen the business case for locally developed wind projects.
Nick Lilley from Embark stated: “Acquiring a SODAR or monitoring mast takes resources that are often beyond even the most passionate community group. We are happy to now offer communities across Australia an affordable program to assess their local wind conditions and more readily develop community wind farms.”
Adam Blakester of NEW stated: “We are very pleased to roadtest this new program with Embark and have the opportunity to assess several sites in the New England region. Community energy enterprises can deliver many benefits to regional areas and it brings New England Wind a step closer to realising our vision for a community-owned wind farm.”
In Australia, there are currently three operating community-owned wind farms with several more in the pipeline. Embark will select participants for the program based on how advanced they are in project development.
For further information check out the Embark wiki article.