Power to the people

3 Jul 2015

Towards the end of 2014, the Government introduced its plans to support Community Ownership and Community Energy Projects, allowing solar projects up to 10MW in size to benefit from the Feed-in-Tariff, providing that any generation over 5MW was owned by a Community Energy Group.


Community Energy Projects cover aspects of collective action to reduce energy usage, purchase, manage and generate electricity. Particular emphasis is on local engagement and local leadership and control, all with the end goal of the community benefiting collectively from the outcomes.

 

Profits from community owned projects are paid to the Parish Council or to a joint venture account shared by the community, directly and on an annual basis. These payments are on-going, usually for the lifetime of the farm, ordinarily for 20 to 25 years. It is then up to the Council or the community to decide how these funds are to be allocated through a shared ownership or joint ventures.

 

This means the local stakeholders have full control over how the community fund is spent, which can of course be utilised in any way the community sees fit. This could incsolar communitylude the initiation or support of long term projects such as building youth activity centres, helping schools, or paying for the upkeep of community spaces. In such cases funding can be on-going or be allocated on an ad-hoc basis through regular meetings.
 

One of the first community projects in the UK, West Mill Solar Farm, which opened in 2011, has had the community see many of these benefits, where a percentage of the profits regularly go to a local community organisation involved in environmental education, sustainability and related projects in the local area.

 

As a result of communities coming together on a solar project, more exposure is given to the harmful levels of carbon emissions and how to help mitigate and reduce our carbon footprint, whilst saving on energy consumption. This idea was lent support by the Green Deal initiative, launched in July 2013, to provide funding to Local Authorities working alongside communities to create a greener environment. People within these communities have the opportunity to get together to exchange ideas such as reducing the amount of energy used on a daily basis in households, recycling materials and advice on how to make their homes more energy efficient. As an example, West Mill Solar Farm generates power for approximately 1400 homes reducing the carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere by 2000 tonnes per year.

 

Over the years, Suncredit has had extensive experience with renewable or ‘green’ initiatives and are keen to assist with any such projects a community wishes to pursue.

 

Developing a solar farm requires management and coordination of all the processes, such as initial project assessment in all disciplines including viability of the site itself, sloping, visibility, access, soil grade, environmental constraints, distance to grid connection point, capacity at connection point. After which a Grid Application has to be submitted to the local Distribution Network Operator which can be a major hurdle for any scheme. Project Management can include planning application and related studies, meetings with Local Planning Officer, environmental reports, topographic and landscape surveys, design and access statements, transport photo montages, flood and drainage report, negotiation with planners, planning comsheep and solar 1mittee and post planning issues.

 

Then follows Legal Process Management, Solar Design liaison with planning consultants and solar technical consultants to ensure deliverable design with maximum capacity. Last but not least there is the Construction Management to ensure the solar farm is built to a high standard, within budget and on time.

 

This list is by no means exhaustive and helps to illustrate how much a community can benefit from the 8 years’ experience Suncredit can bring to the table, as it can manage the process from inception to a fully operational solar farm.

 

If you would like to see if land or roof space in your community would be suitable or would like further information please call or email us. You can also find more information about Suncredit and solar development on our website at www.suncredit.co.uk.

 

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if this is of interest to you or your community.

info@suncredit.co.uk / 0207 060 5225

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