Sunny Side Up
Ore Campus Solar Panels Installed In Six Days
The feed-in tariff which pays back money for every solar energy kilowatt* produced by businesses and homes ended on 31st March. But in the previous week East Sussex College announced the completion of a solar panel installation at its Ore Valley Campus which is calculated to provide it with 72% of its energy requirements – a saving of more than £190,000 over the next 25 years. It is also anticipated to generate a fund of £100,000 for education in renewable energy.
Clearly the benefits would change substantially without the tariff. However Energise Sussex Coast, a community benefit co-operative set up to guide local renewable energy generation projects and energy efficiency schemes, has pre-registered 40 local community buildings, which, if solar panels are fitted within the current year, will still be entitled to the payments under the tariff conditions.
A simple deal with no investment required
The offer requires no upfront investment and no maintenance charges. The building owner simply leases the roof to Energise Sussex, then buys back the power generated at a substantially lower cost than is currently offered by the electricity companies.
And the installation at Ore Valley took a mere six days.
“I couldn’t believe how easy it was”, said Kate Meakin of Energise Sussex. “The college will become a beacon of how green energy can benefit
our local area… We encourage other community organisations to talk to us about how they could also benefit from becoming generators of solar energy.”
You might ask ‘What’s not to like?’ But obstacles exist, and they all reside in the processes which institutions can require for sign off. In other words process is taking precedence over very obvious benefits, both immediate and long term.
“It often depends on one very strong individual” said Kate, “working within an institution and driving things forward.”
Harnessing the power of coalition and engagement with Generation Z
The Ore Valley campus project came about through the co-operation of Energise Sussex, Brighton Energy Co-operative and East Sussex College, and is part of the 1066 Local Energy Campaign. It was funded by community shares, with £131,100 of investment coming from local residents.**
The company which installed the panels was Genfit, based in Chester but working across the UK on both commercial and residential projects. It has a strong commitment to community involvement and education.
Students at Ore were involved in aspects of the installation each day by the Project Manager Dave Cowley, who commented: “We were also able to reach out to a wider range of students who are taking different courses. We managed to incorporate a lot of health and safety demonstrations, and involved the students in risk assessments and method statements which is something they will only see out in the ‘real world’ ! I know for certain that we helped students look towards a working future, and that in our eyes is worth the time we spent with them.”
Kate added, “Dave’s interaction with the students was fantastic. And Genfit have offered a work experience placement to one student, while two more have approached them on their own initiative – a great result in six days.”
* Solar PV- producing electricity not thermal solar which heats water.
**The investment offer is still open. Local people can invest
their money and receive a return of 5% a year. For more details
visit Brighton Energy Co-op’s investment page https://brightonenergy.org.uk/
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