1MW Flagship Project

Our Flagship Greenfield Project

We are developing a 1MW Greenfield solar project opportunity. This will be the largest community owned solar facility in Australia and we are very pleased to be able to develop this for the Canberra community.

Quick Statistics

Greenfield Project

Greenfield Solar Array

  • 5,184 solar modules
  • Co-owned by 400 to 600 local community members
  • Power for approximately 250 Canberra homes
  • 1.9 GWh of electricity each year
  • 1600 Tonnes CO2 abatement each year
  • 3 hectares
 

Proposed Location

Nestled between the old Majura Rd and the new Majura bypass the site will be on the Majura valley tourism trail and be a part of an area which demonstrates the bush capital vision of Canberra. The area combines local agriculture and produce with nearby institutions like the Winery and Truffle farm and can now boast to being a focal point for local communities transitioning to a renewable future through innovation in sustainability.

A map of the proposed site is shown below (click the image for a larger view): Triangular shaped project site located on the wedge of land at the intersection of Majura Rd and Majura by pass. We have had some great feedback from community stakeholders in the nearby areas and are very interested in any feedback, questions, queries or comments on this proposal from any member of the community.  Please send any feedback to feedback@solarshare.com.au. Below you’ll find some of our letters of support.

This site has been in Development by solar developer Solar Fields who has already completed studies and investigations into the suitability of the site. You can view a selection of these below, Please note that the block to the south is also being used for a solar project (but not one by SolarShare), some of the documents below cover approvals for the whole (combined) site:

Funding and Finance

While it is a sizeable project for the ACT, it will not be the largest by any means. As a comparison, it will be roughly 5% of the size of the array which is installed on the Monaro highway at Royalla.

We estimate participation from 400 to 600 community members, with investments ranging between $1,000 and $10,000 per member.

dollar coinThe major portion of the shareholder investments will go towards setting up the solar farm, including equipment purchase and construction costs. The various components of the cost include civil works, installation labour, electrical work, grid connection hardware, cables, breakers, inverters and of course, the solar panels.

SolarShare is applying to the ACT government’s Community Solar initiative to sell the electricity under a Feed in Tariff contract. Under the ACT Government’s community solar initiative, SolarShare will be able to sell the energy into the energy network and receive 20c for each kilo-Watt-hour (kWh) for electricity generated. As a comparison, electricity for homeowners costs around 18 c/kWh in the ACT.  Each year the plant is predicted to earn over $360,000 in revenue. The profits from this sale of electricity will be returned to our member investors.

Technology and equipment

Ground screw mounting brackets are positioned into place utilising laser locators to ensure accuracy and correct siting. The ground screws are specially designed for the installation of solar PV modules and penetrate the ground to a level of no more than 1600mm reducing the environmental effects of the project and do not require any concrete.

Panel Close upThe solar PV modules are mounted to the ground screws at an angle 25° facing true North providing maximum capture of the available sunlight. The solar PV modules selected for this project will be 250W crystalline silicon PV modules. The PV modules are connected to three phase string inverters which deliver an efficiency 98.2% and provide a 10 years product warranty.

A DC array of 1300kW has been selected to accompany the 1MWac generator; this ensures that the full MW of production can be in use for a greater period throughout the day.

The solar PV power generation system will utilise both DC and AC over voltage protection and external surge diverters to protect the equipment against environmental impact and include DC and AC isolators for safe operation and maintenance.

To ensure maximum efficiency and reliability, certified DC and AC cabling will be installed to minimize the power losses and to meet local and national electrical regulations.

A main distribution panel with customer metering, protection relay and monitoring equipment will be installed and will be designed to meet ActewAGL requirements and regulations. Perimeter protection fencing is proposed with signage and a locked access gate.

Project Risk Management

As with any development that relies on future returns, there is an element of risk in investing in a solar farm.  The solar industry has had a history of volatility regarding equipment and subsidy pricing. Equipment prices may vary between project conception and construction, due to global fluctuations in supply or demand of solar equipment or aspects such as exchange rates or other events with unforeseen economic impact. Currently, SolarShare’s officers and governance group have no reason to believe that such an event is likely to occur. However, due to their very nature, these unforeseen events cannot be predicted with certainty.

SolarShare has a governance board that maintains and regularly updates the risk register. Our offer information statement will contain a full description and disclosure of the risks the project may face. We strongly recommend you read this document in full before making a decision to invest.

SolarShare’s insurance policy will cover replacement or repair needed due to equipment failures or other events which cause disruption in electricity generation. However, if due to unavoidable circumstances, the generator is out of service for a significant period, it would likely result in a loss of income.

For a project selling power through a Feed in Tariff contract, if the Feed in Tariff legislation is repealed then the Feed in Tariff contact with the energy retailer may be revoked. (click here to learn about the different types of contracts for the sale of solar power) SolarShare believes this to be unlikely, due to the large number of homeowners, businesses and other voters whose income from solar installation on their own private properties would also be reduced if the feed in legislation was repealed.

Information webinar

We have published an information webinar as an investor briefing for anyone interested in the Flagship project. Please click here.  

FAQ

What is the fundraising process?

We will be inviting people to invest in two stages, “T1 Seed Funding” and “T2 Construction Funding”. For the first round – T1 Seed Funding, we plan to raise $125,000 for the initial seed investment. We are limited to 20 people for this round, which means the minimum investment is $5,000 for this first round. This is due to a rule in the Corporations Act, also called the 20/12 rule, which permits us to raise funds from no more than 20 people over a 12 month period by this fundraising mechanism.

T1 – Seed Funding investors should inform themselves to understand and accept a higher risk profile than the investors T2 Construction Funding round

In recognition of the higher risk profile we are offering 10 per cent more shares for each dollar that is invested in this initial round. For all other aspects, shares issued in the seed round will have the same rights as shares in the second investment round. The associated risks are detailed in the seed round information memorandum and it is important that you read and fully understand these risks if considering the seed round.

Round Two (Main round) investors should inform themselves to understand and accept the Majura Community Solar farm’s standard risk profile that will be detailed in the offer information statement. It is important that you read and fully understand these risks if considering the main round.

In recognition of the generally lower risk profile, T2 Construction Funding investors will purchase shares at $10.00 per share. The minimum investment amount in Round Two will be $500 except for a small number of people who registered to invest $350 before the minimum was raised.

For example, a $5,000 investment in the second investment round will receive 500 shares ($10 per share), a $5,000 investment in the seed round will receive 550 shares ($9.09 per share).  

What are the main differences in risk between the seed investment round and the main investment round?

Investors in the main round (Round Two) will have the risk profile associated with owning an asset. This includes sunlight and climate variability, unforeseen site conditions during construction, and plant operational risks such as outages.

As well as the asset ownership type risks above, seed round investors have three other important sources of risk to be aware of:

  • ACT Government policy relating to the Feed in Tariff may change, either as a result of the election or as a result of other factors.
  • SolarShare may not be successful in its application for the feed-in tariff.
  • SolarShare may not secure sufficient funding in the main investment round to proceed.
Both rounds have other risks than those detailed in this answer and it is important to read the disclosure information in the T1 Seed Funding (Round one) information memorandum and T2 Construction Funding (Round two) Offer Information Statement (OIS) thoroughly prior to making an investment decision.  

Do you have other incentives for the first 20 founders – for example a SolarShare mug?

The investors in the T1 Seed Round will be SolarShare Canberra’s pioneers and without their participation the project would not be possible.  As well as being able to call yourself a founder of SolarShare you will have the appreciation and gratitude the SolarShare team and wider SolarShare community for playing this part in community solar for Canberra.

…And we’ll have a think about the mugs.  

As the risks are different in the seed round, do you have a fallback position if there are not sufficient investors in this round to raise the $125,000 seed budget?

SolarShare have already received significant community interest in the seed round (Round One) investment even considering offer documents are still in confidential draft form. SolarShare sees it as vitally important that the ACT community is involved in an open process and so we have not selected particular individuals. If this round is oversubscribed we will preference people in the order that they originally registered with us.

Contingency is built into the $125,000 target for the seed round capital raise. This target includes costs which can be deferred without increasing project risk, as well as other costs where the budget includes more than the essential seed round project requirement.

According the ACT Government process there is insufficient time to wait until after the October election to conduct the seed round as we have a limited window in which to demonstrate to the ACT Government the financial capacity or our proposal. For this reason we need to progress to the main round promptly and conduct the seed round early.

What happens if SolarShare receives too few registrations to fund the solar farm? Will the project still go ahead if some of the people who register decide not to invest?

Yes the project will still proceed. The board will consider the options available. These include:

  • Extending the time for which SolarShare is open for investment
  • Negotiating a smaller project size with the solar farm developer

What happens if SolarShare receives more registrations than the value of the solar farm?

  • SolarShare has been created to allow local communities to own their own energy generation infrastructure. For this reason, we will prioritise registrations from Canberra postcodes if we are oversubscribed.
  • In the event there is still an over-subscription, you may be offered a smaller amount of shares than you initially registered for.

Will investment in the T2 – Construction Funding be available to those not investing in the current T1 – Seed Funding offer?

Investment in T2 – Construction Funding will be open to all SolarShare community members. Where T2 – Construction Funding is oversubscribed preference will be for ACT Resident SolarShare community members as investors  

Why is there a difference in the planned community fundraising amount from selling shares and the $3,000,000 cost of the project?

SolarShare intends to sell shares to a total value of $2,206,000 in T1 and T2 and access a debt facility from an Australian bank of up to $1,000,000 in debt.  

Industry experts have recently quoted cost for construction at market rates of $2/Watt, resulting in an estimated construction cost of $2 million for a 1MW array. Why are the cost estimates in the information memorandum approximately 25% higher than this $2/Watt figure?

There are two sections to this response: – We are building a solar farm that is 1.26MW DC, and 1 MW AC. The plant is designed this way to maximize the financial return on the ACT Government Feed-In Tariff. This gives us a plant that is $2.07/watt. – The costs of a solar farm are not directly scalable with regard to size, nor do the costs for a farm necessarily decrease the larger the farm is. Our farm at 1.26 MW is smaller than most solar farms, and as a result the cost is at the upper end of the scale of costs for farms.  

Given the political uncertainty around the ACT election, which political parties have you spoken with?

SolarShare has been in discussions with the ACT political parties including the Liberal Party, the Labor Party and the Greens.

We have received excellent backing from the current Labor / Greens ACT Government.

The Liberal Party also supports renewable energy though they haven’t expressed a specific position on the ACT Community Solar program or the Majura Community Solar Farm.

If there is a change of Government, what could a new Government do to stop this project going ahead?

A new ACT government could change the policy which supports Community Solar energy generation. All governments can change existing, and create new, government policy. This is the method by which the ACT Community Solar policy was created. We note that members of the ACT Legislative Assembly from all political parties have provided broad statements of support for solar PV renewable energy generation and backing for ACT’s ambitious renewable energy targets We also note that changes need to be supported or at least tolerated by the electoral base if the Government is to maintain its power base.  

Can a new Government in the ACT reduce the feed-in tariff rate once it is awarded?

Changing Government policy is within the powers of all Governments.To date no Government has retrospectively changed, nor has noted any public intention to retrospectively change, any renewable power generation FiT support Act.   SolarShare’s Board considers this an unlikely action for any government as to do so would risk undermining the trust that investors need to place in government decisions to ensure a stable investing environment.  

As the feed-in tariff is 20 cents for 20 years, does SolarShare have to sell all power to ACT Government only?

No, we do not have to sell only to the ACT Government. The ACT Government’s feed-in tariff policy means that we can sell to a participant in the wholesale market and the Government will pay the difference between the wholesale price and the 20 cent feed-in tariff.  

Is the 20 cents per kilowatt hour feed-in tariff guaranteed for twenty years?

The ACT Government feed-in tariff creates a contract between us and ActewAGL distribution. It is also worth nothing that ActewAGL distribution is 51 per cent owned by the ACT Government.  Within the feed-in tariff deed there is also a treasury guarantee that stipulates that if a future Government were to repeal the legislation then the ACT Treasury would pay the amount of the guarantee.  

What happens after 20 years, when the project reaches the end of its life?

As the equipment reaches the end of its life the board will consult with members, the host site, and other stakeholders to decide on the best course of action. One of two general paths may be taken:

  • Members will have the opportunity to re-invest their funds enabling SolarShare to purchase new equipment to continue operation of the solar farm. This is known as ‘re-commissioning’
  • Initial invested capital will be returned to members and the project will be decommissioned.
During the life of a SolarShare project, SolarShare may pay back to its members some of the invested capital as well as the dividend for that period.  

Has there been an agreement for the take off amount?

Currently, no agreement specifying the amount of electricity subject to the FiT has been executed. The main instruments defining the FiT agreement are anticipated to be in the form of a “Grant of Entitlement” and “Deed of Entitlement” issued by ACT Government similar to that used in the recent renewable energy auctions. The instruments define the size of the solar farm and the annual maximum and minimum outputs. SolarShare understands the reasons these quantities are defined is to ensure the solar farm is not increased in size post agreement (maximum output) and the solar farm is built (minimum output). SolarShare anticipates the FiT agreement will be for 100% of the electricity output from the solar farm. The output will be largely a function of the solar farm’s rated capacity and availability; the capacity and availability of the distribution network; and amount of sunshine.

Will there be an insurance policy?

Yes. SolarShare has insurance quotations that covers operational risks to the Majura Community solar farm site and related liabilities.

SolarShare’s insurance does not cover investors’ funds.

Is there individual shareholder liability in this seed round?

There is no individual shareholder liability emanating from the T1 raising. However, as explained in the Information Memorandum, any investment is not without risk and it may be appropriate to seek independent advice if unsure.

Will interest paid on the bank loan be higher than the return from the solar farm?

The interest rate in our loan term sheet is lower than SolarShare’s current financial model’s estimated rate of return.

What is the payback period?

The payback period is 12 to 14 years.

What is the estimated construction time? Will the solar farm come online straight away or in stages?

Once begun, construction will only take a couple of months, however in our timeframe we have prepared for a slower construction process in case of delays. As soon as it is built it will be connected to the power grid, and as soon as it is connected to the power grid it will start generating an income. It will be connected and turned on as a single unit.

Will it be possible to track online the energy generation in real time?

Yes, this is already done at other sites that Epho & Saferay have developed and constructed. This will be easy to do when we set up the solar farm.

What happens after 20 years?

After the 20 year time frame of the project we can either recapitalize or decommission the equipment. We have budgeted for decommissioning, however pending reaching an agreement with the farmer for continuing the lease and securing a suitable ongoing off-take agreement it will be feasible to upgrade the equipment and continue operating.

Are you able to secure renewable energy certificates?

For our flagship project these will be surrendered to the ACT Government in return for the feed-in tariff.  

What are the terms of the sub-lease on the winery’s land?

It is a 20 year sublease, indexed to CPI. It will be a registered sublease and therefore has similar legal standing to the ACT Government lease the winery owner holds over their land.  

What will be ongoing operating expenses after construction of the solar farm is completed?

Maintenance costs, the lease, insurance and interest on the loan facility are our largest expenses. The system will be electronically monitored so we will be able to track the energy production against the expected energy production. This means our maintenance provider will immediately be able to see if something is not right. We intend to run sheep under the panels to keep the grass down. Cleaning will not be necessary unless something unusual occurs – such as a flock of birds laying droppings on the panels or an unusual dust storm. The panels will be tilted so that rain will easily clean the surfaces.  

Is the 1MW size limitation set by government or by some other factor?

The primary reason for this size is the Government’s imposed 1MW limit. We could build a larger farm however we would sell at wholesale prices without any feed-in tariff support.  

What are the social dividends of this project for the local economy?

There is evidence that a community owned project generates 7 to 9 times the local economic impact compared to a project owned by external financiers outside the local area. This is because the proceeds for the activity go back to the local community. 1 We also have small collaborations planned with the University of Canberra and the ANU for honours or graduate students to undertake further study into our project and use the project data for their research.  

Can the T1 application form be filed as hard copy?

We will accept postal date / hand delivery date as submission date for hard copy forms.

[1] Original Report: Bell, J; Booth, E (2010) The economic benefits of on-farm energy clusters in Aberdeenshire, SAC consulting Australian context: Nichols, R (2011) Renewable energy as an alternative farm income, Nuffield Australia Project No 1104