FAQ

Table of Contents

Registration

What level of commitment is associated with registering?

A registration is non-binding and you are not obligated to proceed with investing in SolarShare if you have registered. Please take the opportunity to read the information available on this website before you register. You are not committed to investing until you accept the investment offer detailed in the disclosure document.

What is the difference between registration and membership?

A registration is an expression of interest. There are no costs associated with registering. When you invest in the community solar farm, you become a member.

How can I verify the amount I have registered to invest?

You can view your registration details, including the registered amount, by clicking on the private link that was sent to you at the time of registration. If you’ve lost that email don’t worry, you can have your private link resent by clicking here.

Can I make an application on behalf of another person?

No. Only the person the offer is sent to can accept it. If you have legal power to act on behalf of another person (for example via a general or enduring power of attorney) then you may sign the form on behalf of another person. In this case we need to see some proof that you are legally able to sign on behalf of the other person.

Can I apply for shares as a joint owner?

The constitution allows for joint holders (section13), applying in joint with your spouse or partner is permitted.

Can I apply for an amount above the minimum subscription?

Yes, we have set a maximum of $100,000 for an individual investment.

Is there a physical address where I can deliver my application?

No you must use the online application form. The details of how to access this are in the Offer Information Statement

How can the value of the shares can be maintained over twenty years when the money is needed to invest in the panels etc which then will inevitably lose their value, and how can the ‘initial invested capital be returned to members’?

After Solarshare invests in the Solar Farm, the expected sum of returns is greater than the investment – which results in the return on investment we are forecasting. We are investigating with the ATO that instead of paying dividends to investors on a yearly basis, we pay a mixture of capital return and dividend. The capital return would result in SolarShare paying back, in increments, the cost of the shares, which would be reflected in the value of the shares.

Can anyone outside of Australia invest?

Unfortunately, the project is only open to investments from ACT residents.

Electricity sale and income

Why have you chosen solar energy for a community renewable energy project?

When creating SolarShare Community Energy we reviewed all renewable energy options. The Board and project team identified solar PV as the most popular renewable energy generation technology among the broader community. Available areas of the ACT also lend themselves more efficiently and effectively to solar energy generation over other renewable power generation options.

The SolarShare Board also recognised that the SolarShare team has far greater expertise in solar power generation than other types of renewable energy.

Who buys the solar energy?

Depending on the project site, SolarShare will sell the solar power in one of two ways:

For some, mostly rooftop projects, the solar power plant will sell energy directly to the energy user on the property where the solar power plant is located. This type of contract is often called a power purchase agreement. The energy user receives the benefit of a predetermined electricity price for many years to come and can hedge against possible future price rises. They can also be confident that their energy is sourced in an environmentally sound manner.

The second type of project is where the electricity is sold out to the grid. This is done under a contract with Evo Energy. The contract is called a Feed-in-Tariff contract, which is a fixed price scheme for solar power plants operating in the ACT. This is a result of ACT government legislation,more information about the Large Scale Renewable Energy Generation Act (2011) is available on the ACT government website.

SolarShare has certainty under both types of contract on the price the community will receive for the solar energy and the duration of the contract. SolarShare will release details of the type of energy contract selected and who the energy customer is when the community solar farm is open for investment. Click here to see the stages involved in joining SolarShare and the time frames covering when particular information will be released.

Where can I learn more about power purchase agreements?

There is a significant amount of information available online from companies and institutions. We suggest conducting a Google search if you want to research this further.

Isn’t the ACT Feed in Tariff closed to new developments?

The ACT Government have recent run Feed-in Tariff program under the Large Scale Renewable Generation Act. This program was particularly designed to encourage community-owned (locally owned) solar power projects.

Where can I learn more about the Feed in Tariff?

Formal information on the ACT feed-in-tariff can be found on the ACT government legislation website under Community Solar Initiative – Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate

Would the project be able to store power through the use of batteries?

Yes, the use batteries would be possible, however currently we are not planning to include storage equipment such as batteries in any particular projects, as we have not assessed them to be economically viable at this time.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using batteries for the SolarShare Majura project?

For our flagship project unfortunately stored power can’t be sold at higher costs when demand is greater. This is because the Government program which we have applied to will have a fixed overall price that we will receive for the energy we generate.

Batteries would potentially offer us an opportunity to build an array larger than 1MW and store excess power to be exported at times the plant would not otherwise be generating. However due to battery costs there is no business case for us to do this at this time. We will continue to monitor developments in battery technology and prices.

Roof-top projects may present a good case for us to use battery technology and we will explore this with individual sites. The suitability of batteries in a roof top scenario will depend on what times of the day the building uses the most electricity.

What is the total investment cost for a 10kW capacity system in SolarShare? How does this cost compare with systems from other solar installers?

A 10kW capacity system in SolarShare works out to an approximate investment of $22,000. It is higher than current prices from other solar installers for this size of system as the price from an installer for a residential system of will be discounted by the value of the Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs discount).

Cheaper solar power is one effect of RECs, however the issue is more complicated than this.

RECs are a way of certifying energy came from a particular source. The person who ‘surrenders’ a REC is able to certify the energy they use as coming from the source which generated the REC.

If you want to have energy you use as being counted as coming from a green generator you have to have (and surrender) the REC to prove it. Selling the REC to another party gives them the right to surrender it.

This is most often done by an energy retailer on behalf of their customers, when someone signs up to a Greenpower scheme.  If you have sold your REC you give the purchaser the right to use it in certifying a Greenpower sale to another customer.

When you sell a REC (or use it as a discount on your system price) it is (usually) sold via a REC broker to an energy retailer who can then claim electricity they bought from a polluting source as green energy.  People who sell RECs allow the purchaser to have the right to use energy (from any source) and count it as green energy as if it came from the seller’s generator.

When you buy Greenpower the electricity retailer surrenders RECs on your behalf, equal to the quantity of green electricity you buy.  It is not sensible to sell RECs from your solar power system and also be signed up to a Greenpower scheme, this is because you are equally able to surrender the RECs yourself (much more cost effectively) then selling them to have them eventually bought by a retailer who will surrender them on your behalf and call it Greenpower.

Unlike small scale plants, utility scale plants do not get to claim their RECs as an upfront discount instead they earn RECs or ‘Large Generation Certificates’ annual, based on actual production amounts.

Governance

What due diligence has been done on SolarShare and the other organizations you are working with? (E.g. solar farm developers, contractors, etc.)

SolarShare has a Board responsible for ensuring the progress of SolarShare’s plans and activities, to minimize the risks to the project and who are answerable to SolarShare’s members. This includes conducting due diligence on any of SolarShare’s providers, including developers and contractors.

How will directors be elected?

Every year, new directors will be elected at the AGM according to the Board’s terms of reference. Directors are scheduled to stand down in a staggered fashion with one third of the board positions vacated each year. A director’s term of office is three (3) years.   SolarShare is governed by a vote at the AGM. Each member has the opportunity to vote on motions at general meetings, including elections of directors.

What is a member owned business?

A member owned business is designed to encourage member shareholders to have a closer connection with the activities of the enterprise.  In a legal sense, SolarShare is incorporated under the corporations act as a public unlisted company.  It is controlled by a board of directors who act on behalf of the member shareholders, this kind of operation is also sometimes called a mutually owned business. Examples of other member owned businesses in Australia are Bank Australia, Independent Liquor Group and RACQ.

In contrast to many corporations, where the board must act solely to maximize the financial return, the board of SolarShare is chartered to act for the benefit of its members through the company’s objectives:

To promote the uptake of renewable energy by facilitating accessible community investment with a financial return in local renewable energy projects; and

To create for Members a connection to:

  • others in their community;
  • the way in which energy is generated;
  • the impact their energy generation has on the environment; and
  • our society’s transition to a sustainable future.

What if SolarShare wanted to become to listed public company on the stock exchange, would this risk losing community control?

Our constitution includes anti-takeover style clauses limiting the ownership of one party and/or related parties. To lose community control, SolarShare’s members would first need to vote to change the constitution to remove these provisions; this would not be possible without a 75% majority of the members.

The risks involved would include the possible loss of community ownership status for the Majura Community Solar farm and the ACT Government feed-in tariff support, which is based upon genuine community ownership for the project.

What is the legal liability of SolarShare members – is it limited to the value of shares as it would be with a limited liability company structure?

Yes, legal liability is limited to the value of shares held by a member.

What are the membership requirements?

SolarShare requires a minimum level of activity from members. To retain membership you will need to continue to fulfil these active membership requirements:
  1. Remain subscribed to our newsletter.
  2. Own a minimum number of shares, please see the question in the finance section regarding the minimum investment level.
  3. Complete our annual members survey.

Who handles the money when I invest?

All matters pertaining to accepting of share application monies, share allotments, share transfers, dividend payments and associated issues will be handled by our share registry company, Registry Direct.

What happens if weather, vandals or some unforeseen circumstance damages the solar farm?

The solar farm will be covered by an insurance policy, which will protect against damage to the equipment due to a wide variety of causes.  The solar panel and inverter equipment manufacturers also provide some additional recourse through their guarantees. Further information on equipment guarantees can be found below.

What guarantees and insurances are there?

As with any organisation, SolarShare will carry insurance to help manage its risks. This includes insurance for the equipment at the solar generation facility.  Additionally the generation equipment (e.g., solar panels, inverters) carries manufacturer’s guarantees. Please read the project specific information in the disclosure document for more on equipment guarantees.

What are the guarantees on the equipment?

SolarShare will only use solar generation panels that have a 25 year performance guarantee which warrants them from producing not less than 90% of their rated power after 10 years and not less than 80% of their rated power after 25 years. This is measured under particular testing conditions called a ‘flash test’. In addition to a performance guarantee, solar panels come with a manufacturer’s warranty, which covers the materials and construction of the panels. An example of this would be de-laminating of the backing film on a panel. If a material defect affects panel performance below the 90% and 80% levels, then it will be covered by the performance guarantee even if the manufacturer’s warranty has expired.

The second major piece of equipment in a solar power system is the inverter. Inverters account for a smaller portion of the capital cost compared to the solar panels. SolarShare will only consider inverters with at least five year warranties, with the preference being warranties for ten years. Following this period, SolarShare’s has budgeted an inverter replacement expense into the financial forecasts.

Professional Advisors

Who provides the legal services?

Chamberlains Lawyers has provide the bulk of our legal services, including drafting the constitution and disclosure document and giving advice on the legal relationship with the solar farm development companies and site owners.

We have also engaged a lawyer who is specialist in Engineering, Procurement and Construction contracts Meah&Co

Finance

Who is providing financial advice?

Pricewaterhouse Coopers were engaged to provide early financial advice including validation of SolarShare’s financial model, structuring, taxation and preparing the company’s accounts for auditors.

SolarShares financial modelling for our Offer information statement, and other advice regarding our fundraising was provided by P2 Advisory.

What is the minimum investment?

The community solar farm’s shares will be $10 each, with a minimum purchase amount of $500 and thereafter in multiples of 50. Prior to July 2015 the minimum number of shares was $350 parcel (35 shares), we will honour this lower amount for all members who registered an amount below $500 prior to the change.

When are dividends paid?

Please read the Offer Information Statement for information on SolarShare’s dividend policy

How will SolarShare return money to investors?

You will need to seek personal and tailored advice specific to your taxation situation regarding any tax implications of investing in SolarShare. Naturally, we are unable to provide financial advice and the following information should be considered is general in nature.

There are two main mechanisms that we have to return money to investors:

1.Dividends

A dividend is a distribution from the profits of the solar farm.

To draw an analogy, receiving a dividend is similar to receiving interest on a bank deposit. It’s money that your investment has earned.  Just like interest, this money is considered part of your taxable income.

There are two types of dividends that we can pay:

Unfranked dividends:

Unfranked dividends are dividend payments that have no prepaid tax. The full amount of the dividend is part of your taxable income and you receive no tax credit. This is closest to the ‘interest on bank deposits’ analogy mentioned above.

Franked dividends:

A franked dividend means that with the dividend money you receive, some tax has already been paid for you.  This occurs because the company pays tax first and makes a distribution to members from the remaining funds. When you receive a franked dividend it comes with a ‘franking credit’, this is a statement of how much tax has already been paid for you. When you submit your tax return, you can claim this franking credit as income, but also as tax that you have already paid. This works in a similar way to tax deductions from your wages or salary, i.e., some tax is already pre-paid for you when you receive your money, and your total taxable income includes the pre-paid tax component.

SolarShare plans to distribute franked dividends whenever possible, and the estimates of returns do include franking credits. More about franking credits can be found at:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dividend_imputation#Australia and http://www.ato.gov.au/Forms/Refund-of-franking-credit-instructions-and-application-for-individuals-2012-13/?page=10

2. Capital returns

A capital return is a repayment of your original investment.

In the bank deposit analogy, receiving a capital return is like withdrawing some of the original deposit. This money is not considered part of your taxable income.

We will be seeking a private ruling with the ATO regarding our policy of return of capital to members as and when we are preparing to pay our first distribution.

How does this investment interact with the energy I use in my home?

Since the community solar farm project is not located at your house it cannot directly supply your home’s energy requirements. You will still need to buy energy from an energy retailer who supplies and bills you for your electricity usage.

Where can I find financial projections?

Financial projections can be found in the disclosure document (Offer Information Statement).

What will the return be?

SolarShare has a number of criteria to assess before determining whether a particular solar project will be suitable for community investment. SolarShare is aiming to provide a return to member investors in the range of 4 to 6 percent, which is comparable with current rates that banks offer in their high interest savings accounts. The particular returns for a solar project will be disclosed after SolarShare signs an MOU with a project site and or developer.

Will the expected return fluctuate according to the level of power the solar farm generates?

While summer months produce more energy than winter months, the estimated return on investment is calculated as an average, which we calculate across the entire project life.

Is return calculated after depreciation of the asset?

Yes, return is arrived at after deducting depreciation expense.

Does SolarShare need an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) as it is collectively investing funds from the issue of shares into an asset that will generate income for the shareholders?

We have been advised by Chamberlains (our Lawyers) that SolarShare does not require a license. This is because SolarShare will be covered by the ‘self-dealing exemption’ (Refer Section 766c of the Corporations Act 2001) as it is issuing securities on its own behalf, and is not offering a financial product in any third party security, insurance contract or other financial product.

Are you able to access grants?

Funding for the feasibility study and project work to date has been provided by the ACT Government under the community energy grants program.

The Feed-in Tariff for our flagship project in the Majura valley is under Community Solar Scheme Feed-in Tariff grant, which is an ACT Government program.

The main federal granting body for renewable energy, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, provides support to community owned renewables in general such as through a finance toolkits industry and other sector wide support but does not have any programs at project level. Other community grant programs usually require the recipient to be not for profit, we do not fit their criteria as we are seeking to return a profit to our member investors.

Shares

Is there a cap on how many shares one person can own?

Yes. As this is a community solar farm, we want our profits to be shared among our members. We have set the investment minimum at $500 and the maximum at $100,000. Our constitution also stipulates that no individual, consortia or group of related parties can own more than 19 per cent the company.

How can investors sell shares and will they rise in value or stay the same?

Members may sell their shares in the community solar farm.

As SolarShare will not be listed on the ASX, trading your shares is likely to be a slower process than selling shares on the stock market. As with other companies like ours, to sell a share you must find a willing buyer first.

Shares will not be listed on any stock exchange, so no ready public market will exist for their sale. In the future and subject to legal clarification on what is permitted, SolarShare will consider mechanisms for facilitating trading of securities amongst members.

An investment in SolarShare is best considered a long-term investment. The share value can also be expected to decrease in value as the solar panels age, and as we pay capital returns back on the initial share value. For example if someone sells their shares after 10 years, there is only another 10 years left of expected returns. It is up to the buyer and seller at a particular point in time to agree on a fair value for the transaction.

People

Why does it suit people who don’t have a roof?

If a person doesn’t have a house or property to put solar on, then there are very few ways they can be involved in generating renewable energy. Until now, people who rent, move frequently or just don’t have a roof that is compatible for solar power have been excluded. SolarShare presents these individuals a new opportunity to benefit from local renewable energy.

Who are the other investors?

We cannot disclose details of individuals in the community who have registered or invested, as this is confidential information. Perhaps the easiest way to meet them is to come along to one of our events.

Can a testamentary trust or superannuation fund be an investor?/h3>

There is nothing in SolarShare’s eligibility requirements or constitution preventing membership by a trust or superannuation fund. If you wish to invest from one of these sources it is important to review and seek advice on whether the trust deed or other governing document specific to that superannuation fund or trust permits investment in SolarShare.

Is this limited to Canberra residents?

Our flagship project is open to ACT residents only, As a condition of granting a Feed-in Tariff, the ACT Government has restricted the Offer to residents of the ACT.

When we develop future projects we make sure they are open to the local community surrounding that project location. While we encourage local ownership as much as possible, there are many people who are originally from a local area but might currently reside elsewhere.

How is SEE-Change involved?

SEE-Change is a local sustainability not-for-profit organisation that has created and nurtured the SolarShare project. SolarShare was formed by a group of SEE-Change members who formed a renewable energy special interest group called Canberra Clean Energy, which held workshops, talks, stalls and surveys to gauge community interest in different energy projects and researched a number of viable options for what could be achieved.

SEE-Change and Canberra Clean Energy personnel ran the SolarShare project during its pre-incorporation phase. There is significant work involved in creating a community solar farm for Canberra and we would like to acknowledge the considerable contributions made by all of the volutneers and staff. Additionally, many of the initial members of SolarShare are expected to come from SEE-Change’s membership.

All of us at SolarShare thank SEE-Change for its support over the years and congratulate the SEE-Change team for providing similar support to other initiatives in their fledgling stages.

Will the expertise gained in setting up SolarShare Canberra be used to seed future projects?

At each step the project team have taken care to include scalability to other projects as one of the important requirements when making decisions. SolarShare expects to expanded to include other projects based on the template and lessons learned from our initial project in the Majura Valley.

Technology

What type of panels will SolarShare use?

Solar technology is gradually improving. Announcements are made from time to time on the latest scientific breakthroughs regarding cell efficiencies, including the technique of ‘sandwiching’ or layering together multiple solar cells, with each different layer of the sandwich tuned to different wavelengths of light. Despite these incremental improvements most of these breakthroughs will not be ready for cost effective commercialisation for a number of years.

SolarShare is focused on using commercially proven technology to ensure the solar farm is constructed with value for money and reliability in mind. This means using solar Photo-Voltaic (PV) technologies such as mono crystalline and poly crystalline, which have proven reliability and have achieved vast cost reductions in recent years.

Has Concentrated Solar Thermal (CST) technology been considered?

As technology progresses, concentrated solar thermal is likely to prove to be an excellent technology for commercial solar power generation.

However, the scale of the project that SolarShare is pursuing is better suited to a Photo-Voltaic (PV) solar generating technology. PV has been commercially proven in the ACT and presents a lower risk for community investment.

Other solar questions

Where can I find out about other community solar projects?

A number of communities similar to ours are taking control of their energy generation. Some of the other groups around Australia include: Besides solar projects there are community wind projects which are well underway.

Environmental questions

How long is the energy payback?

Energy payback is the time that it takes a generator to produce as much energy as was used in its construction. This includes the energy in the manufacturing processes and site construction activities. Energy payback for photovoltaic (PV) solar projects in Australia ranges between 2 and 4 years.

How much water is used for cleaning the panels?

Panels do accumulate small amounts of dust. However very little water will be required. Natural rain water generally provides sufficient cleaning.

Where can I sign up?

Information on apply for Shares in the the Main investment round (Round Two) will be available on this website in December 2018.

How do we contact SolarShare?

You can find more information on the SolarShare website (www.solarshare.com.au), or via email: info@solarshare.com.au