15 November 2010
Hepburn Wind is a new kind of social venture for Australia. It is a small, community-owned wind farm at Leonards Hill, in the spa country of central Victoria.
I have recently received my certificate of membership and am the proud owner of a $5000 share package.
According to the website, Hepburn Wind is expecting the 2 2MW turbines to be operational in early 2011, providing the energy to power about 2,300 homes.
Social ventures such as Hepburn Wind struggle against a policy bias that favors large, fossil-fuel generation and penalizes clean energy innovation. But they benefit from community support and generate valuable good will.
Hepburn Wind is financed by a combination of shareholdings, bank funds and a Victorian Government grant.
What can be learned from this venture? What kind of finance model would be required to go the next step and build a wind farm with on-site storage for the energy generated, for 24 hour grid dispatch? Could we use a social venture finance model to build one of the solar thermal plants specified in the Zero Carbon Australia Plan, by Beyond Zero Emissions?