Christine
Luo

Project: Let’s Paint the Town Green– Sydney’s Largest Crowded Funded Community Solar Garden, Powered by the Community

Christine grew up in Sydney, spending a lot of time hiking in the urban bushland of Sydney’s South Coast and swimming along Bondi’s shoreline. The great outdoors fostered within her a deep connection with the natural beauty of Australia. This inspired her to become a CSIRO’s– ON Accelerator Mentor supporting the commercialisation of a sustainable food packaging solution which will reduce food wastage and ultimately greenhouse gas emission.

Christine has a strong background in banking, having spent 7 years across corporate banking and structuring project finance transactions at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and the National Australia Bank Group.

Away from the office, she volunteers as a Council Member of the NSW Art Gallery’s Young Members Advisory Committee, which is tasked with broadening the millennial audience base of the Gallery. She is committed to a car-free lifestyle to reduce her carbon footprint.

MOTIVATION FOR AND COMMITMENT TO CREATING A BETTER AND MORE SUSTAINABLE PLANET

While snorkelling in Fiji, I observed the environmental, economic and social threats of climate change first-hand. My dream is, that as a community, we become active curators of our environment, we raise funds for urban community projects and our world views shift from self-centric individuals to restorers of our planet.

I want to help Sydney recognise the reliability, cost effectiveness and co-benefits of green infrastructure, thereby expanding renewable innovations from a metropolitan-first to large-scale urban transformation.

MY PROJECT

Australia has the highest penetration rate of home solar energy. However, there are still two main barriers to mass solar conversion. First, the payback period of solar is still too high for businesses and Not-For-Profits (NFPs) to justify its uptake. Second, the split-tenancy incentives faced by Australia’s rental market. Addressing these barriers may very well be the final frontier of rooftop solar.

To ensure that everyone has access to solar, I am creating a marketplace connecting roof owners (who don't have the upfront capital) with consumers who want solar but don't have roof space. Initially the app will used to crowdfund small scale rooftop solar projects. Once the application reaches mass scale, it could be used to geolocate any renewable technology. This digital application will have in build minute-by-minute analytics for investors to understand the performance of their ‘solar account’.  Investments could be as little as $50 per share with very short payback period. The purpose is to give Millennials access to green investments that offer high returns which could help them save towards their first home faster – “from roof-lords to landlords”.

By connecting private parties who have upfront capital with those who have interest in adopting renewable energy, this will hopefully diminish the need for government subsidy. I am hoping this may be a cost-effective, long-term solution to address the current market failure in renewable energy adoption rate in Australia. Rather than becoming a direct competitor with established renewable industry players, I am working closely with them to create a marketplace that will complement initiatives by NFPs, local government and private companies that are already addressing climate change.

My vision is to see Australia expand renewable tech start-ups from small scale metropolitan prototypes to large-scale urban transformation.