We spoke with Tosh Szatow, Director of renewable energy services company, Energy for the People, who explained the process of establishing CORE in new urban developments and its advantages.
Community owned renewable energy (CORE) is an approach that can deliver the dual advantages of significantly more affordable electricity supply without the emissions of coal fired power. It also offers new commercial opportunities for developers and others affected by new urban development projects.
CORE involves setting up a method for generating a renewable power supply for a defined area or community.
Developers must foot the bill for energy infrastructure in greenfield sites. This means paying the full cost of extending the existing electricity grid to service their new community. They typically receive a 50% rebate from the power company only after the infrastructure is established. Whatever the site context, they may also be asked to pay for upgrades to the local substation and there is no financial rebate for this. So, there are some big upfront costs that must be recouped through the development process.
With CORE, developers are able to access finance, specifically for the purpose of establishing renewable energy infrastructure, the cost of which can be paid back over time by the users of the power generated. Importantly, if done well, loan repayments can be structured to be lower than the cost of on-grid electricity. We see this as the greatest benefit of CORE. Once the loan is repaid, the revenue raised through the sale of electricity can be ploughed back into the community. Key components of CORE systems (solar panels and battery storage) are modular in nature, and so can be gradually scaled up as a new urban development grows through each development stage.