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Drake University

Publication Date

Fall 2015

Program Name

Australia: Sustainability and Environmental Action

Abstract

This study assesses the feasibility of implementing community owned renewable energy (CORE) technology in social housing units in North Coast NSW. I completed this study by conducting interviews with three renewable energy policy experts to ascertain the current state of renewable energy and CORE in NSW. Second, I conducted four interviews with separate social housing unit employees/residents to understand their interpretation of current barriers to implementing renewable energy in the social housing and if any of the units currently have any renewable energy technology or energy efficiency programs in place. After finishing this assessment, I did a comparative analysis with the barriers to CORE determined by academics and the barriers identified by social housing unit employee/resident interviews. This showed the significance of the capital and information barriers, as both academic and non-academic sources cited these as reasons against implementation of renewable energy.

After deciding the most significant barriers, I assessed unique benefits of CORE over standard renewable energy technology that can address these barriers. These benefits include the economic and social benefits of CORE, such as financing structures that enable high investment returns, possibility of donation based funding, community engagement, centralized location of renewable energy technology and ability for greater social cohesion. Understanding these benefits show the potential opportunities of CORE over standard renewable energy that social housing units should consider for future implementation.

The study shows the importance of innovating solutions as a way to connect low-access and vulnerable populations to renewable energy technology. As household and electricity costs continue to affect the North Coast NSW region, devising creative ways to address these impacts are essential to promote equity in achieving environmental sustainability. Therefore, if these barriers are addressed, CORE has the potential to be an effective way to transition social housing units to renewable energy and reduce their ecological footprint substantially.

Disciplines

Energy Policy | Growth and Development | Oil, Gas, and Energy | Sustainability

 

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