Renewables experts to revitalise Geelong


Andrew Thaler is accustomed to a challenge. He has recently purchased the 407kW PV Singleton Solar Farm in New South Wales, which was once the largest solar facility in the Southern Hemisphere, and aims to restore it to its former glory.

He comes to Geelong which has lost some (not all) of its manufacturing glory, with a message of hope: Renewable energy can benefit jobs, manufacturing, communities and the environment.

As Federal and State politicians prevaricate over renewable energy schemes and targets, community members around Australia have moved in to take matters into their own hands. Community renewable schemes give all members of the community the opportunity to participate in, and take ownership of renewable energy.

Andrew Thaler has identified a unique opportunity for Singleton to be one of the first major “community participation” solar sites in Australia.

For him, this is not just about making money from solar PV: “This is me addressing the future for my kids with the means I have available to me now: motivation, muscle, money and management,” said Andrew Thaler.

On Wednesday 23 July, Andrew will be joined at Geelong Sustainability Drinks at Beav’s Bar by Alex Houlston, director and co-founder of Energy for the People and the Community Energy Enterprise The People’s Solar, and Martin May, former Director and Treasurer of Hepburn Wind, Australia’s first community owned renewable energy generator.

Martin May now works with LIVE (Locals into Victoria’s Environment) who have launched a solar panel bulk buy, a community solar project for renters, and a partnership with a 100% green energy retailer.

Aaron Lewtas, president of Surf Coast Energy Group and local solar business person, running the company Green Energy Options, will give an update on community solar on the Surf Coast.

Event organiser Mik Aidt from Geelong Sustainability Group said he was delighted to have such a high calibre of renewables experts come to Geelong.
“People in Geelong have embraced solar power on their rooftops. The next step is to take that success and enthusiasm to move into big community renewable projects that create local manufacturing jobs,” he said. This event could be the kick-starter to just that.


23 July 2014
at 5:30pm to 7:30pm

Beav’s Bar, 77 Lt Malop St, Geelong


Free entry by gold coin donation

Geelong Sustainability Drinks is a social networking forum held after work on the fourth Wednesday in month at Beav’s Bar in Geelong CBD.

» Event page on facebook


  Westmill Solar Cooperative, UK. Courtesy of


Dig deeper

‘Community-Owned Renewable Energy: A How To Guide’

This guide is intended as a first port of call to get an idea of how to start a community owned renewable energy project.

» Download link:


Interview and contact

For any questions, please contact Mik Aidt,

Press photos

For photos in high resolution, contact Mik Aidt

More information

You can read more information about the event and activities on