Cameron Knox and Dawn Lippert

Last month, Australia’s Allume Energy announced a $1.5 million bridge investment from Elemental Excelerator and the Schmidt Family Foundation to bring its SolShare rooftop solar technology to more than 4,000 residents across the Southeastern United States, starting with shared solar projects in Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi. Below, Allume CEO and co-founder Cameron Knox and Elemental Excelerator founder and CEO Dawn Lippert explain why this partnership is prioritizing this funding to ensure low-income communities living in multi-unit buildings can benefit from shared solar in the Southeast.

MPT: Why is it important to bring solar energy access into lower income areas?

Cameron Knox: Until recently, solar technology has primarily been saving money for people who already have it. We need to ensure we include everyone in the energy transition. On average, beneficiaries of the SolShare technology can save up to 40 percent off their electricity bills. The first U.S. pilot project in Orlando has indicated an average annual savings of $1,166 per apartment in the first year of operation, including net metering credit savings. This partnership will ensure low-income communities can benefit from clean, affordable energy from the sun.

MPT: How expansive can this project get?

Cameron Knox: We expect new projects across the Sun Belt over the next year will prevent over 10,000 tons of carbon emissions (equivalent to taking over 2,000 cars off the road for a year) that would have otherwise been created from conventional energy consumption. Allume will soon begin installation of its second project in Orlando, bringing the number of U.S. installations to three, with the other site in Jackson, Mississippi. 

Back in Australia, Allume is already providing around 2,000 apartments with clean affordable energy, with around half of those in social or affordable housing. By bringing SolShare to the U.S. market, Allume is helping reduce the income gap that has plagued the American solar energy market.

MPT: How did Allume find partners to bring its technology to America?

Cameron Knox: Solar installations can be 30 to 40 times more prevalent among single-family homes than apartments, echoing a profound lack of solar energy availability among lower-income families. Allume’s ability to close this gap, as it has already demonstrated in Jackson, Mississippi, and Orlando, Florida, drew investment interest from Elemental Excelerator and the Schmidt Family Foundation.

Dawn Lippert: Elemental Excelerator originally invested in Allume Energy because they are leaders in bringing affordable solar to affordable housing. We could all use an extra $1,000 a year in our pocketbooks rather than spent on electricity bills. We are now thrilled to collaborate with others in funding Allume’s expansion in the sunny Southeast. Solar electricity is cheaper and cleaner than fossil fuels, and it is time that we all have access to it.

The partnership of Allume, Elemental Excelerator, and the Schmidt Family Foundation will not only benefit the environment and tenants’ bottom lines, but it also will expand the market for clean energy in communities that are often overlooked, setting the stage for still more climate and economic benefits.

MPT: What benefits to you think these residents and the area utilities will see over time?

Cameron Knox: Allume Energy remedies one of the oldest and most vexing issues in green energy: installing solar panels on multi-family homes. SolShare is a behind-the-meter technology that takes solar energy generated by rooftop panels and allocates it to each grid meter as desired.  

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