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Project overview
  • Lead Organisation

    University of Technology Sydney


    New South Wales

    ARENA Program

    Advancing Renewables Program

  • Start date

    1 January 2018

    End date

    31 January 2019

  • Project Partners
    NSW Government, Bendigo Sustainability Group, Blacktown Council, Brotherhood of St Laurence, Byron Shire Council, Community Owned Renewable Energy Mullumbimbi (COREM), Community Power Agency, Energy Queensland, Enova Community, Energy Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney, Norton Rose Fullbright, Pingala, Powershop, Queensland Council of Social Services, Repower Shoalhaven, Shoalhaven Council, Swan Hill Shire Council
    This solar project was completed on 31 January 2019.


The Social Access Solar Gardens Project will prototype four of the first solar gardens projects in Australia in locations across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. The Project aims to enable solar gardens that will benefit the 30% of Australian consumers currently excluded from owning solar PV.

How the project works

The The Social Access Solar Gardens Project will work by installing a central solar array, generally near a population centre. Energy customers can purchase or subscribe panels in the solar array. The electricity generated is them credited on the customer’s electricity bill.

The project has two major streams of work:

  1. Research; and
  2. Development of prototype social access solar gardens business models.

Area of innovation

Solar gardens are the fastest growing segment in the US solar industry, contributing 200MW of new photovoltaic capacity in 2016. However, in Australia solar gardens are not yet available.

Through Solar gardens, the project partners aim to either:

  1. Develop between one and four pilot Solar Gardens that are de-risked and ready to implement and are underpinned by business models that are desirable to locked-out energy users, viable and feasible to implement; or
  2. Identify the specific barriers that would prevent the Social Access Solar Garden model from working, and identify potential solutions to overcome these barriers.


With a solar garden, any electricity customer can participate in and benefit from solar energy. The solar panels may be located off-site, but the household receives a financial outcome on their bill, a bit like having solar on their own roof.

Social Access Solar Gardens are a type of Solar Gardens that specifically seek to enable locked out and the most vulnerable and low-income energy users to participate in solar.

Last updated 17 November 2020


Solar Garden revolution in Australia

Solar gardens, that allow you to own rooftop solar even if you don’t own your own roof, could bring the benefits of renewable energy to Australian households that until now have been shut out of the market.

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