A new hydroelectric scheme proposed for the River Weaver in Cheshire has smashed expectations and met its £635,000 fund-raising target in just over 48 hours. Developers Hydrosense Renewables and Triodos Bank, which is running the scheme’s corporate finance, announced yesterday that the crowdfunding round raised the cash in just 51 hours.
German discount supermarket chain Aldi has announced it will install 96,000 solar panels across more than 50 UK stores by the end of 2017. The panels will be added to the 85,000 units already installed across 275 stores and all nine of Aldi’s regional distribution centres, which generate more than 17,500MWh of electricity a year. The installations will take Aldi’s total store investment in solar to almost £17m, and will enable the retail giant to produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of more than 6,200 households.
Repowering London plans to create 40 energy gardens on the Overground network by October this year. The gardens will grow food and flowers, host bees and birds and clean the air on the platforms, where particulate matter from breaking trains is hazardous for humans to breathe. The next step is to raise money to instal solar panels on the roof of an overpass at Highbury & Islington station. The panels will generate money from the feed-in tariff that energy suppliers pay to those putting energy into the system. The plan is to distribute the tariff revenue across the Energy Garden group to fund a volunteer coordinator at each station. TfL did not respond to requests for comment.
More than 7,400 cities and local councils have signed up to a ‘Global Covenant of Mayors’ to fight climate change, galvanised by Donald Trump’s dismissal of scientists’ concerns for the future. “What President Trump has done is he has – unintentionally as he does with so many things – organised and focussed people who have been doing a number of good things in hundreds of different places. “Now mayors are communicating and working in a fashion that I have not seen during my seven years in office. Mr Reed said Atlanta had committed to be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy by 2035, among a raft of other measures designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And he said, regardless of Mr Trump’s policies, American cities had the power to meet the carbon targets laid out in the Paris Agreement, which was ratified by Barack Obama.
Bristol Energy Cooperative is seeking to crowdfund more than £1 million which will help to pay for its maiden battery storage investment. Earlier this week the community energy group announced its intention to raise a total of £1.15 million, the proceeds of which will help repay previous loans and invest in a Tesla Powerpack installation planned for a community housing scheme in Winchester. The bulk of the planned raising will however go towards the repayment of short-term loans from Close Brothers and Bristol City Council which it used to complete solar PV projects prior to reductions in the feed-in tariff.
What is expected to be Europe’s largest community battery is set to be installed at an innovative regeneration scheme in Nottingham, with a 2MWh Tesla battery to be deployed in September as part of a housing scheme alongside community solar. The £100 million Trent Basin project is a new housing development built at the site of an inland dock previously derelict for around two decades. It is expected to deliver 500 homes over five phases with 375kW of rooftop and ground mounted solar and the Tesla battery to be installed by EvoEnergy. In an innovative use of the solar farm, planning permission has been granted on the basis that the site shall be cleared by 28 February 2020. By this time, the panels from the ground mounted installation will be removed and installed on new homes built as part of the development.
Solarplicity has claimed its new solar initiative could save social housing tenants £200 million a year if they sign up to free LEDs, a smart meter and having solar PV installed where viable. Solar Power Portal reported earlier this month that the company was preparing a low-subsidy residential solar model aimed at social housing, claiming individual tenants could save £240 a year on average on their energy bills. In today’s formal launch, Solarplicity explained that having secured funding from European investor Maas Capital, a subsidiary of ABN AMRO Bank, it will partner with social housing providers to create a Community Energy Scheme providing the energy saving solutions. In addition, the company will offer ‘simply lower energy bills’ using a 100% renewable energy tariff following its acquisition of independent supply firm Lo CO2 Energy last month. Only one rate will be applied, with no standard charges irrespective of the payment method used. The initiative is the result of a detailed procurement process between Solarplicity and Alliance Homes, a social housing provider active in procurement activities for the social sector. The framework agreement enables more than 40 social landlords and 500,000 households to participate. It is expected that the scheme will reach 50,000 households in the next twelve months and 800,000 homes within five years, at which stage these tenants are forecast to save up to £200 million a year through the scheme.
Two communities in Wales will receive energy from a hydro scheme using rain water in Snowdonia. The water runs into the River Ogwen and the aim is to capture the power of its flow to produce electrical energy using hydro technology. It would provide power for Bethesda and Llanberis whose communities funded the £700,000 project through shares. Both schemes will be launched on Saturday.
The UK solar market is beginning to defy difficult conditions as developers emerge with new, post-subsidy models. Yesterday Solar Media’s head of market research Finlay Colville and analyst Lauren Cook presented a webinar which updated the audience on the UK solar and storage markets, with Colville insisting there was life yet in UK solar. Colville admitted that the UK market was now “very different” to the one which boomed throughout the subsidy-driven years of 2010 – 2016, but said it was now beginning to face the “very real prospect” of subsidy-free developments coming to the fore. “Much of the resurgence of UK solar is being kept below the radar for now, especially on the large-scale side, with a select group of project developers identifying 40-50MW sites for subsidy-free potential in 2018-2020. Two sub-sectors in particular have been raised as being of particular interest to the solar sector; new build and council or local authority installs. While a number of installers have enjoyed success in partnering with construction firms like Wilmott Dixon and Taylor Wimpey, public sector solar continues to be of significant interest given reduced expectations for returns and payback periods. The UK market is also seeing interest in new solar business models from housing associations, perhaps best typified by the model launched by Solarplicity which Solar Power Portal reported on earlier this month. These are only likely to be driven further by continually falling module prices, which Colville said were nudging towards the $0.40c/W price across the globe.
More than 200 community energy organisations are now operating enough solar, hydro and wind schemes across the UK to power 130,000 homes, a new analysis of the nascent sector has revealed. The first ever Community Energy State of the Sector report today reveals that a total of 222 community energy organisations are operating renewable energy schemes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland boasting collective capacity of 121MW, or the equivalent to the domestic consumption of 85,500 homes. When that capacity is combined with Scotland’s estimated community energy capacity of 67MW, it means the UK community energy sector can power 130,000 homes, or as many households as there are in Cardiff or Coventry, the report said.