SHARE continues to work towards a more sustainable future for South Hill. Our solar PV installations are generating well, and beginning to reap the rewards. As you know, we are a Community Benefit Society (a “Bencom”) which means that our aim is to use profits to benefit the local community.
Since the 40kW rooftop PV array was installed at Church Park in June this year, we have now received our first payment for electricity exported to the National Grid, together with the Feed-in Tariff, and our first payment for the sale of electricity to Mark Pethick. We are happy that we have a good working relationship with Mark, who has been very patient and supportive during the development stage.
“The Role of Community Energy in a Changing Energy System”, presented by RegenSW in Exeter. The event, included presentations by representatives of several organisations . It was encouraging and inspiring to be with like-minded people from groups similar to ourselves in the South West. Tamar Energy Community (Tavistock), TRESOC (Totnes), Teign Energy Communities, Exeter Community Energy, Transition Network and more. We are not alone in our quest for a sustainable future in renewable energy. It was also interesting and useful to chat with the business representatives present.
We were fascinated to hear about the transition of Western Power Distribution from being a DNO (Distribution Network Operator) to a DSO (Distribution System Operator). A fine distinction, you might think, but it shows that the industry is responding to the new reality of power inputs from multiple sources, and smarter use of power by end users. “Time of use” contracts could be developed in the near future whereby users taking power at times when there is more available will be on a cheaper tariff. Of course this happens to a certain extent already with tariffs such as Economy 7, but the way in which electricity is being generated and used is changing rapidly.
There was much talk of storage of electricity generated from renewable sources. The development of battery storage solutions is coming on in leaps and bounds, and the cost is falling all the time.
Now that the government’s Feed-in Tariff has been reduced to a very low level, Community Energy groups cannot rely on the FIT to make their projects profitable. Community Energy England told us that the number of new group startups has fallen dramatically during 2015-2016. The government’s withdrawal of grant aid has also led to an 80% drop in household insulation in the past year, something which should concern anyone with an interest in a sustainable future.
The way forward seems to lie in partnerships with businesses or industry (generating electricity which is used locally instead of being exported to the Grid). Good Energy also sees opportunities for collaboration with community groups.
We were asked whether South Hill has a Neighbourhood Plan that might be of help to us. Although a renewable energy policy has been written by the steering group, we at SHARE feel that it is inadequate. So far we have not had any meaningful talks with the NDP group to develop this.
Jan 6th 7:30pm Everyone Welcome The Parish Hall. Bring your Real Christmas trees to recycle and mince pies, cake, to share. Mulled wine will be available to stimulate your ideas for future projects.
If you are not yet a member of SHARE, please visit www.south-hill.co.uk/share to see our Rules and Aims or phone Peter our secretary 01579 208519 or email email@example.com or you can ask questions and join on the evening of Jan 6th. We look forward to seeing you all there.