Wedmore Community Solar Array

Wedmore Community Solar Array, with space for sheep grazing underneath panels

Hi and a ‘Happy Christmas’ to all my readers! At this time of year one really wants something to celebrate and I can think of nothing better than what Sharenergy is achieving. Sharenergy is a tiny and rather wonderful organisation based in Shrewsbury. They organise the setting up and operation of community renewable energy cooperatives. I’m a member of three of them: Leominster Community Solar, Neen Sollars Community Hydro and Woolhope Dome Community Woodfuel. It feels good to be part of really democratic organisations that are producing low carbon electricity, and in the Woodfuel project case, heat. These organisations really do bring ‘power to the people’.

The last few months have been very busy for Sharenergy, with lots of new projects at various stages of development. Three of them have just completed successful share offers: Wedmore Community Solar, Dingwall Wind and Llangattock Green Valleys Hydro. Each of these three share offers was oversubscribed, mainly from the local communities. There is an interesting increase in scale and ambition as success builds on success. So for example Leominster Community Solar was a 49KW rooftop system costing £150,725 which completed its share offer in December 2011, whereas Wedmore is a 1MW field scale ground mounted system costing £1.1 million and it completed its share offer in November 2013. Dingwall Wind also completed its share offer in November 2013, raising just under one million pounds needed to install a 250KW wind-turbine. Llangattock Green Valleys has just completed its first share offer, raising £270,000, and are now planning a second hydro-turbine with this share offer due to commence in March 2014.

Congratulations are due to all the local communities involved for getting themselves organised and getting on with these excellent projects, and of course congratulations are also due to the team at Sharenergy for making it all possible. They continually have exciting new projects on the go, so do check-out their website from time to time. One wonders what they’ll be doing in a few years time if the number, scale and range of different technologies continue to grow. Wouldn’t it be great if larger, technically cutting-edge projects, perhaps like the 240MW, £650 million Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon that I blogged about back in August, were either wholly or partly in community ownership!

Do explore the Sharenergy website There are links to all six of the Sharenergy coops I’ve mentioned in this blog, plus others, and especially to new ones seeking funds to go ahead.