Surprising as this may seem to many of you, the United Kingdom now plays host to the biggest solar farm that is owned by the community anywhere on the planet.
Westmill Solar Co-operative has purchased this huge solar panel farm that is situated on the borders of Wiltshire and Oxfordshire at a location outside Shrivenham for £16.5 million.
Westmill Solar Co-operative believes that the 5MW solar farm is capable of generating in the region of 4,900 MWh of solar energy. This amount of energy can provide the power for 1,500 residential properties and, furthermore, could reduce carbon emissions by as much as 2,000 tonnes. These figures do make for impressive reading.
The solar panel farm is claimed to be the first of its kind to be owned by people in the community anywhere in the United Kingdom. The project is huge being made up of in the region of 20,000 photovoltaic solar panels.
When the project came up for sale it attracted the 1,650 investors that were needed in the space of only 6 weeks meaning that the average amount each investor contributed was £10,000.
Philip Wolfe who is the Chairman of Westmill Solar Cooperative and also an expert on the solar industry stated: “Solar power will become the world’s greatest energy source in our lifetime; heralding a new era of sustainable and ‘democratic’ energy supply. As the success of Westmill shows, solar energy enables ordinary people to produce clean power, not only on their roof tops, but also at utility scale.”
The project received tremendous support with in excess of half of Westmill Solar Co-operative’s members residing within only 40km of the solar panel farm.
It will be interesting to see if this excellent development encourages other communities to pull together and get involved in similar projects at other locations in the UK. Not only does this provide sustainable energy for their locality but also an intriguing investment opportunity for the individuals concerned.