All levels of government in Australia are committed to climate action and targets and this may translate into funding schemes for neighbourhood batteries. Specific neighbourhood battery schemes include:
- the Victorian Government’s Neighbourhood Battery Initiative
- the Commonwealth government’s neighbourhood battery program.
There are also more general renewable energy and environmental grant schemes, which may support your neighbourhood battery project. Information about sustainability grant programs in Victoria can be found here.
For community battery projects, it may also be worth considering community and regional development funding schemes. For regional development, you would need to be in a regional area and be focused on regional development. For community programs, you would have to have a strong emphasis on community building dimensions, such as equitable energy sharing, community participation and place making. Some of these schemes provide relatively small amounts of funding.
Such schemes emerge and change over time, so it’s worth keeping an ear to the ground, and drawing up a strong case for your battery, with which you can respond to opportunities. You need to assess the value of the grant scheme and, if possible, the likelihood of success, and balance these against the transaction costs of applying for and managing the grant. The availability of grants may also influence your partnerships, as partnering with, for example, a local council or a research organisation may increase your chances of success.
Forming partnerships may also be a way of securing funds for your project. Local Councils, community sustainability groups, businesses and non-government organisations may have an interest in neighbourhood batteries and may be willing to provide funds or in-kind support to your project.
Your community may also be willing to support your project financially. This support could come through, for example, subscriptions, memberships or investment, but could also involve community fundraising (which could be integrated with your community engagements efforts), or crowd funding.
Some funding options will not be available to individual battery projects, but may be relevant to larger projects involving a series of batteries in a larger geographic area. Such projects also benefit from economies of scale. Some community energy groups have joined together to form networks or hubs, and there has been a suggestion of establishing a community-owned managed investment fund to support multiple neighbourhood battery projects. Note that such ‘scaling up’ needs to maintain an emphasis on tailoring individual batteries to particular communities.
These larger projects may be of interest to philanthropic or green investment funds. There are various green investment funds, nationally and internationally, including, for example, superannuation funds, which may support projects of this kind. Similarly, it may be possible to contribute to carbon off-set programs if neighbourhood battery projects can demonstrate the decarbonisation services they provide.
This connects with our earlier suggestions (see Policy context) about standards and certification schemes, such as ISO 26000 (Guidance on Social Responsibility), B Corporation or Climate Bonds. Such certification might be important for attracting green investment, both by funds, companies, philanthropists and/or communities. Once again, you need to look closely at eligibility criteria, and the potential benefits would have to be weighed against the transaction costs of applying.
Note that the eligibility and attractiveness of Australian neighbourhood battery projects to philanthropic organisations, green investment funds or bonds, and offset programs is untested. However, it may be worth exploring, particularly as the political context for these initiatives changes.