As a consequence of rising electricity costs and a strong Feed-in Tariff, communities are in a great position to benefit from community solar energy.
By working collectively, communities are able to develop and invest in local, clean energy production, bringing long-term benefits to local investors and the wider community as a whole.
What is Community Solar?
Community Solar is where a group of people get together and fund large-scale solar panel installations – on buildings, brownfield or greenfield sites – on behalf of and for the benefit of the local community.
Funds are raised either through crowd-funding or via a community share offer, open to anybody over 16, purchasing which usually entitles you to become a member of the Cooperative or Community Benefit Society that is making the offer. Shareholders get a return on their investment which is generated via the Feed-In Tariff and sales of surplus energy to the National Grid. Depending on the situation, local businesses or residents can get access to free or cheap electricity and a community benefit fund is created which goes into local causes such as addressing fuel poverty. Meanwhile, the local community in general benefits from a more resilient and future-proof energy supply.
As schemes go, Community Solar is about as Win-Win as they come!
Why Community Energy?
To find out the reasons WHY community energy projects are so important, please read this linked blog post by one of ACE’s Directors, Nikki Pillinger.
An excerpt is below:
“Community owned energy projects allow the public to become co-producers of energy rather than distant, passive consumers. This can address the ‘what difference can I make?’ apathy that so many people feel about their own individual energy behaviours. By being involved in energy producing initiatives people can gain a sense of control and ownership over their energy supply and this allows them to engage with it in a more positive way. By supporting local action and empowering individuals and communities as producers, decentralisation of energy infrastructure has the potential to bring about a cultural change in our attitude to and use of energy.”
The full article can be found here:http://www.avaloncommunityenergycoop.co.uk/why-community-energy/
Community Solar Farms and Parks
Centralizing the location of solar systems has advantages over residential installation that include:
- Trees, roof size and/or configuration, adjacent buildings, the immediate microclimate and/or other factors which may reduce power output.
- Building Codes, zoning restrictions, homeowner association rules and aesthetic concerns.
- Lack of skills and commitment to install and maintain solar systems.
- Expanding participation to include renters and others who are not residential property owners.“
ACE views Rooftop Solar as having the most immediate potential for installation of solar panels.
We want to work with community organisations and businesses who are interested in having free solar panels installed on their roofs. The community organisation would receive free electricity during daylight hours and the co-op would receive the feed in tariff to be used for local community benefit. The co-op would cover all installation, maintenance and legal costs.
For more information on Rooftop Solar, please see here