Solar beer-making shows us the power of community

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By Doug Hartmann

This past year has brought a lot of ups and downs in the world of politics and climate change. Communities everywhere are dealing with rising energy costs and demand. In Australia, we consume more than 1700 million litres of beer each year. Imagine how much energy producing that much beer would require!

Last year a boutique brewery in Sydney launched an Australian first – a community brewery that uses solar energy to make beer, and delicious beer at that.

Little Henry’s Brewery in Newtown has collaborated with Pingala, a citizen-lead initiative to harness solar power for community benefit. Pingala organised people in its local community to fund and install a nearly 30KW solar-powered system to produce the beer. Pingala is intent on creating sustainable solutions to meet the energy challenges that may not otherwise be addressed by the industry.

How did Pingala make it happen? They raised funds through the sale of shares: community members were able to buy at a low entry price of $250/share. The shares sold out within 9 minutes! Community investors also receive the benefits of offsetting their own electricity costs through a financial return from Little Henry’s Brewery. Those involved have greatly benefited from connection to the community around them. Many participants have noted how good it felt to realise their shared values and to do their bit towards leaving their neighbourhood a better place for generations to come. It is truly a win for all.

There is a growing sense of urgency around climate change, political inaction, rising power costs and growing income inequality. Community-run renewable power groups are springing up around the country, and these initiatives can achieve reductions in household energy bills, decarbonise our energy supply through using renewable energy, decentralise and localise our energy supply, and democratise energy governance.

Little Henry’s brewery is just one example of the change a small community can bring about in the world. Blank Canvas Coworking will be hosting a community forum on Thursday, March 30, 2017 from 6:30pm to 7:30pm. The aim is to help people start their own community-powered initiative. We will also launch a social enterprise and renewable power incubator innovative. Under the program, we will guide social entrepreneurs on aspects ranging from securing funding to designing and marketing their products.

Get out, get involved and you may be surprised at the power of community to change the world.

This is a free event. Follow Blank Canvas Coworking at St Kilda Hub on Facebook to stay updated on this and other coworking events.

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