Media release

Baker saves piles of dough thanks to community

A major Sydney industrial bakery is expecting its profits to rise thanks to a huge solar system on its rooftop that was funded by the local community.


Bakers Maison will switch on the massive 228-kilowatt system today, which is one of the largest community-funded solar projects in Australia.


General manager Pascal Chaneliere said it was an exciting time for the business, which produces French par-baked breads, pastries and sweets for major retailers across the country.


“We are manufacturing more than 15 tons of various products a day. This requires a great deal of energy, as we need to generate heat for baking and then cold for freezing. Increasing our existing solar system will further reduce our power bill. It means we can save money, all while having minimal impact on the environment,” Mr Chaneliere said.


It took less than a day for 20 community-minded investors to deliver the $390,000 needed to buy and install the solar system. Under the deal, the bakery pays investors for the solar power it uses at a set price that is cheaper than electricity offered by mainstream retailers. This means the bakery can pay off the solar system over time while still giving investors an attractive return.


Bakers Maison is the 16th such community power project that Sydney-based, not-for-profit social enterprise ClearSky Solar has made happen, with plenty more in the works.


ClearSky founding director Dr Christina Kirsch said high demand from investors meant it took only a few hours to fully fund such projects with applications coming from every state in Australia.


“Everyday Australians want to invest their money ethically and they are jumping at the opportunity to help businesses go solar,” Dr Kirsch said.


“We’re empowering people and businesses to take significant action on climate change and benefit the country from the production of clean energy not just environmentally, but also economically.”


Dr Kirsch said businesses were signing up to the ClearSky model because its industry partner Smart Commercial Solar offered a professional service.


“We’ve found that community solar only works if these projects are managed by industry professionals who we can trust 100% in the quality of the installation and the ongoing maintenance, support and monitoring that is critical for ensuring investor returns.”



How ClearSky works:



ClearSky finds businesses interested in using solar. The size and cost of the system needed is developed in consultation with a commercial installer. An offer to invest is sent out to a list of people who have flagged interest in financing community power projects.
The business pays the community investors for the solar power it uses over a seven- to 10-year term. The price paid for the solar power is much cheaper than that offered on the mainstream electricity market. This revenue covers the original sum invested plus an attractive return (typically around 7%) for investors. When the term ends, the business owns the system and can benefits from free solar power for a further 15-20 years.



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