Pingala partnered with environmentally-conscious Young Henrys Brewery in Newtown, Sydney to build a solar farm on its roof, which will save an estimated 127 tonnes of greenhouse gas every year as reported by Pro Bono Australia.
The newly launched Pingala Cooperative, which is alongside the Pingala Not for Profit, allows the organisation to raise funds from member investors to install solar panels on their partner businesses. Pingala secretary Tom Nockolds said that they will lease the solar systems to businesses, and the businesses will pay them a fee to use the system as if they were their own, and through that, they will get a revenue stream that allows them to pay the costs and generate a small profit.
While the project is crowdfunded, they were not sold using an online crowdfunding website or platform. More than 150 people attended an event at Young Henry’s where investments were opened up. People were invited to submit an “expression of interest” which are packets of shares worth $250 each.
Pingala was able to raise $17,500 to install the solar system. Nockolds said that the next step will be the development of an online platform to run more projects, decrease the price and improve efficiency to create a way for community members to buy micro packets of shares to help support renewable energy projects in their local area.
Nockolds also stated that although it’s a small project, what it represents is the first solar community solar lease product in Australia. It represents the first community solar cooperative fund and the first crowdfunded equity community solar project.