Community energy volunteers have completed what they claim is England and Wales’ biggest ever transfer of solar PV to collective citizen control.
Eight solar farms together rated at 36MWp in output now move into the control of Community Energy Together, an alliance formed of five regional generating co-operatives.
During CET’s stewardship up to £20 million of community benefits, could flow, say participants. These are delivered in the form of support to groups fighting fuel poverty and supporting village halls.
The five participants are community benefit societies Wight Energy, Gower Power, Kent Energy, Somerset’s Yealm Energy and Shropshire & Telford Community Energy.
Big Society Capital, one of the financial midwives to the deal, says it meets the electricity needs of 13,000 homes. At a stroke, it also increases by 20% co-operative energy’s share of national green power generation.
The deal has been facilitated by Community Owned Renewable Energy (CORE), a partnership between the UK’s leading social impact investor Big Society Capital and Power to Change, an independent trust fostering community enterprise.
Designed and managed by the UK’s leading environmental impact investment advisor and fund manager, Finance Earth, the closure of the fund marks the successful realisation of its initial purpose of facilitating community ownership of renewable assets and creating funding streams for wider social change.
Big Society Capital’s Joe Shamash said: “This transfer is testament to the potential that community energy has to help the UK reach its net zero targets in a way that benefits local communities throughout the country. We are so pleased to have helped communities take ownership of solar farms that deliver the multiple benefits of energy security, a cleaner planet and funding for local community projects.”
Participants see this deal as a blueprint for the Labour party’s energy plans, encouraging community ownership of small-scale projects promoting cleaner power. Money is reinvested in communities and utilisation of private investment as part of national energy policy.
Power to Change’s CEO Tim Davies-Pugh said: “Local and community energy is key to making the UK a clean energy superpower and building an economy that works for people and planet. Bold, collaborative approaches are needed to rapidly grow community energy at scale, opening new markets and bringing in institutional investment, whilst remaining embedded in local communities. As a key partner in this innovative scheme, we stand ready to share the lessons, particularly as the Labour Party further develops its approach to community energy through its Local Power Plan.”