Community solar PV: moving fast to keep FiT

PV install at Hockerwood

This autumn, we are racing against the clock to install further solar PV roofs.

The plan is to install two roofs on local businesses – one of 10kW and a further one of 27kW. The businesses benefit from lower cost power, Sustainable Hockerton members benefit from continued returns from their investment, and the community benefits from a village sustainability fund.

These new installations will be funded by the co-op’s income from its 225kW wind turbine, potentially with some top-up loans from its members, and will help further diversify the renewable energy systems in our parish.

imageThe clock is, as many of you will know, ticking. The Government plans to substantially cut the feed-in tariff and, as of 1 October, removed the ability to pre-register schemes for the feed-in tariff, removing the certainty that community schemes need to raise investment. These cuts appear far too big and far too early, whilst the attack on investor certainty pushes up costs – which is no way to help reduce energy bills in the long-term. We have sadly also begun to see the impact of specific cuts and a wider policy vacuum on jobs, with the loss of an estimated 1000 jobs at Mark Group and Climate Energy.

We can only hope this attack on renewables is a last gasp from a system historically reliant on the fossil fuel industry. Interest in our approach continues to engage and inspire other communities (pictured above are York Community Energy on a recent visit); and at a crucial time in the run up to Paris talks, the climate now has the Pope, Barack Obama, the governor of the Bank of England and Nanny McPhee firmly on its side.

It is, to say the least, disappointing that the UK Government is no longer leading the green agenda, but this is a global challenge and, as the business world opens its eyes to the high risks it faces, it feels like the balance is shifting.

If you want to find out more about what we’ve achieved at the street and community level, Hockerton Housing Project’s next Sustainable Living tour is on Saturday 7 November.

Eventbrite - Sustainable Living

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