Art Deco cinema receives solar upgrade

Thursday, 20 June, 2024

Art Deco cinema receives solar upgrade

Thanks to a national grassroots charity that finances climate action projects from donations, Adelaide’s historic Capri Theatre has installed a new 71.8 kW rooftop solar system and a 51.2 kWh battery.

Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Australia (CORENA) provided the $155,302 interest-free loan, which was sourced entirely from donations.

As the roof of the heritage-listed theatre is not suitable for normal solar panels, a new lightweight type of solar panel was used instead. Image courtesy of CORENA.

Built in 1941, the Capri is an independent not-for-profit cinema run by volunteers. The Art Deco building houses the Theatre Organ Society’s world-class theatre pipe organ. As the roof of the heritage-listed theatre is not suitable for normal solar panels, a new lightweight type of solar panel was used instead.

The cinema uses the majority of its energy in the afternoon and evening, so by storing some of its solar energy in an onsite battery rather than sending it to the grid, it can then use this energy onsite at peak demand times.

“The Capri has been making a concerted effort to reduce its impact on the environment for a number of years, by upgrading to LED lighting, improving recycling efforts and purchasing compostable consumables,” said Ian Carter, Capri Theatre’s President.

“As a not-for-profit, run mostly by volunteers, the Capri is also very conscious of its expenditure. The rising cost of electricity makes transitioning to solar- and battery-powered energy the natural next step for the organisation right now and we are extremely grateful that this is possible for us through CORENA’s funding program.”

The new solar system and battery are expected to avoid an estimated 94,458 kWh of grid electricity per year, which is equivalent to ~17 average homes using zero-emission renewable energy instead of grid electricity. The solar will reduce Capri’s electricity bill by an estimated $32,500 per year — once the loan is repaid, the theatre can redirect these future savings towards its core purpose of supporting the arts.

CORENA offers interest-free loans to not-for-profit, community and social-enterprise organisations for projects that reduce their carbon emissions. People are invited to make donations to collectively crowdfund these community climate projects. These donations are ultimately returned to the fund in the form of loan repayments, which, along with new donations, are then used again to fund future projects.

Projects funded by the organisation include:

  • solar installations
  • energy efficiency upgrades (such as LED lighting, building insulation, etc)
  • replacing gas appliances with energy-efficient electric alternatives
  • purchasing electric vehicles
  • any combination of the above.

To date, CORENA has provided over $1.35 million to finance 52 completed climate action projects across Australia. Collectively these projects have avoided using approximately 5594 MWh of grid electricity and its associated carbon emissions.

CORENA’s latest project — a $125,899 interest-free loan to fund a 99.56 kW solar system at Victoria’s Mansfield Autism Statewide Services — is more than 95% funded and will soon commence installation.

The organisation also provides technical advice and assistance, and hosts monthly online Q&A sessions to assist community organisations who want to learn more about its loans. For more information, visit:

Top image courtesy of CORENA.

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