Community Energy Plus News

Solar Communities 2011 scheme expansion

Two months after launching a £20 million investment package for community buildings in Cornwall, the Cornish sustainable energy charity Community Energy Plus has extended their offer for free PV for community buildings in Cornwall to include businesses and non-commercial organisations in Cornwall and Devon.

Community Energy Plus has brought together five local installers to create a multi-million pound fund to invest in roof-mounted solar PV installations before the end of March 2012.

Buildings taking up the offer will be able to take advantage of free electricity generated by the systems ranging in size from 2 kW to 50 kW but unlike other ‘rent a roof schemes’ will also receive an income from any electricity not used within the building that is exported to the National Grid.

With the maximum size of 50kW systems on offer, eligible buildings could save up to £7,000 a year on their electricity bills by using all of the energy as it is generated, or receive an income of up to £2,400 a year for exporting all of the electricity produced to the National Grid.
Since launching their ‘Solar Communities 2011’ scheme in July, Community Energy Plus has received interest from almost 150 organisations and technical surveys and planning applications are currently underway on around 100 buildings.

Neil Farrington, Sustainable Energy Projects Manager at Community Energy Plus explained the charity’s decision to expand the offer outside Cornwall and to include businesses: “With uncertainly surrounding the Feed-in Tariff rates from April 2012, the future of commercial and privately financed schemes cannot be determined.  We want to ensure that as many local communities as possible take advantage of the feed in tariff while it exists.  While we initially focussed the scheme on community buildings in Cornwall, the demand and finance available has given us the opportunity to expand the scheme into a wider area and to a more inclusive range of buildings.” 

Businesses and community buildings with an interest in taking up the offer should contact Community Energy Plus, who are working as the impartial intermediary and advisor for the scheme.  The charity is using their expertise of working with community projects and businesses to demystify the process of embarking on renewable energy projects for organisations with little experience in the field. 

In addition to evaluating the technology on offer and helping organisations understand how PV systems could help to meet their own energy needs or generate an export tariff income, the charity will also be able to support buildings to enter joint ventures with installers.

The lease contracts with the installers will be for a fixed term of 25 years, with ownership of the equipment passing to the building at the end of the contract, after which the technology is expected to still be 80 per cent efficient.

The local installers involved in the Solar Communities 2011 scheme are Clean Earth Energy, Plug Into The Sun, Solar Solutions and Solen Energy UK.

Click here for further information about the Solar Communities 2011 scheme