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Community Owned Solar Power Project Proposed

It is to be welcomed when there is the prospect of a local community coming together to participate in a project to, potentially, benefit their neighbours.

Solar panels on neighbouring homes
(image credit: Dave Dugdale)

This is just what is being proposed in Wales with a community in Gwent being asked to assist in the raising of £390,000 with the funds intended use being for the installation of solar panels on several hundred homes in Newport in South Wales.

The solar panel scheme is being run by Gen Community Ltd whose chairman, James Alexander, feels that the lives of many communities on low incomes can be aided by installing renewable energy technology to help reduce poverty, lower the emissions of carbon dioxide and also provide a fair return to investors.

This solar power initiative is being helped by the Co-operative Enterprise Hub that is very supportive of projects that are owned by the local community. An additional £4 million has been committed until 2015. To get the first phase underway, there has been the launch of a community share issue. Shares are available from £500 and every member will have an equal say in how the venture is operated.

There has been an increase in the UK in the take up of co-operative enterprises with a rise of 10 per cent being seen in the last 24 months from 5,450 enterprises in 2010 to approaching 6,000 presently that collectively have a membership of 13.5 million people.

Michael Fairclough, who is the Co-operative’s head of community and co-operative investment commented: “There is significant potential for community-owned renewable energy to deliver local economic and social benefits in addition to helping the UK to meet its energy needs and climate change goals.

“Ambitious community-led projects enable people to control, generate and benefit from their own renewable energy and can contribute to a step-change in people’s thinking about energy – a catalyst for a clean energy revolution across the UK.’’

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