Ramahyuck District Aboriginal Corporation (RDAC) are a leading provider of primary healthcare, and social and family support services for Aboriginal people in the Gippsland region of Victoria. The services provided by RDAC are currently almost entirely reliant on government funding.
In order to generate an independent income stream, RDAC investigated the opportunity to generate renewable energy at an underutilised parcel of land they own on the outskirts of the city of Sale. The land has the potential to house a 5MW solar farm – enough to power over 2,000 households annually.
In late 2019, Point Advisory and our partners Energy Forms were engaged to assist RDAC in reviewing the preliminary analysis of the solar farm site and preparing a detailed project plan to progress the project. Energy Forms contributed their extensive experience supporting the development of over 2GW of renewable energy projects throughout Australia. The review was funded by both the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation and Indigenous Business Australia.
The development of solar farms can be a complex and lengthy process, requiring a reasonable amount of capital upfront to prove the project’s viability. This can be a substantial barrier for smaller, community-based organisations. Our team’s approach was to conceptualise Energy Form’s project delivery methodology for solar farms as a ‘funnel’ which is broken down into five key stages (see diagram below): Preliminary assessment, detailed assessment, application, tender and finance. We refer to this process as a ‘funnel’ because at each stage, the delivery model is refined, risks are addressed, and the project becomes more focused. As the project progresses through the funnel the risks decrease and the confidence and investment in the project increase.
Our ‘funnel’ approach to solar project development provided RDAC with an easy-to-understand framework for collating the outcomes of existing assessments and guided the delivery of additional due diligence in order to progress to the end of the detailed assessment stage (stage 2). This is considered a major hold point as there is enough information to rule out any fatal flaws to the project and the proponent has transparency over the expected costs, effort and time associated with the remaining stages. RDAC are currently at this detailed assessment stage and are considering the information collated to date.
Should the project go ahead, it will provide a range of valuable outcomes for RDAC and the broader Indigenous community in the Gippsland region, including:
- Self-determination through control over an independent income stream from investment in Indigenous owned land
- Indigenous employment and training opportunities in the fast-growing renewable energy sector
- A templated process for delivering a similar model in other Indigenous communities throughout Australia.
Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation and Indigenous Business Australia.
Melbourne, VIC, Australia