Following the success of our solar panels at Gloucester Resource Centre, we are now looking to develop further renewable energy projects in Gloucestershire which have a community benefit.
We are currently contacting schools in Gloucestershire to ask whether they might be interested in developing a renewable energy project in partnership with us. We would fund any project through a further community share issue, and can offer expertise in progressing projects from the drawing board to fruition.
Solar PV guidelines
Solar photovolatic (PV) panels are one of the main options for schools looking to install renewable electricity generations. We have included below a guideline to help schools decide whether PV is the right option for them.
- We are looking for any building that has a large roof, ideally facing between South East and South West .
- The size should be at least the equivalent of 4 good sized terraced houses. (40 panels or 10 kWp). The roof must be in good condition, unless repair work is planned to be carried out before installation. It can be a flat roof.
- If the building is in a Conservation area, the proposed installation should not be visible from the street.
- The roof should be unshaded during the main part of the day, apart from any trees that can be trimmed before installation.
- We’re looking ideally for community buildings that are well used during the day. (Buildings need to have at least a ‘D’ energy efficiency rating for the owners to install PV, but that requirement is waived for community owned projects.)
- The GCEC would need to sell most of the electricity generated to the school at a rate that will be just less than their current rate. However, the great advantage is that the price will increase at no more than the Retail Price Index rather than the average annual increase of 10%.
- Once a school has identified a suitable building and would like to investigate the possibility of working with us, then we can visit the school with an installer (eg. R-eco, Shackleton & Wintle) to do a survey of the building.
- We will then prepare a balance sheet to establish whether the installation is likely to be profitable enough to be considered for a ‘community share’ issue.
Other renewable energy projects
We do not have specific guideline for all the possible renewable energy projects, however we would be keen to discuss with schools any other projects that would like to install but need help with the funding for.
Copied below is the letter sent speculatively to many academies in Gloucestershire in autumn 2013.
I am writing to you on behalf of the Gloucestershire Community Energy Co-operative. Formed in 2010, the co-operative helps to develop renewable energy generation across the county, with an emphasis on ensuring that projects have a community benefit.
We are contacting you to ask whether you might be interested in installing solar photovoltaic panels or a biomass boiler at your school. A renewable energy installation like this could have significant economic as well as environmental benefits.
In 2012 we completed our first project, a large solar photovoltaic installation on the roof of the City Works building in Gloucester. The Gloucestershire Resource Centre, which owns the building, wanted to fit solar panels but didn’t have the capital funds to cover the installation.
Our co-operative launched a share offer, enabling local people to invest in the project and receive annual dividends in return. In this way we raised £105,000 to fund the installation of the panels. Now the Gloucestershire Resource Centre benefits from the free electricity the panels generate and have saved around £1500 on their annual electricity bill.
You can read more about our activities here: http://www.gloscommunityenergy.coop/
This project has been a tremendous success, and we are now actively looking to develop further community based renewable energy projects.
Both solar photovoltaic panels and biomass boilers are ideal renewable energy installations for schools. Solar panels will need a large area of roof space that faces in a southerly direction. A biomass boiler can be fitted alongside an existing oil or gas fired boiler which can then act as a back-up. Both these systems have been installed at many other schools and are reliable and easy to maintain.
If you would like to install solar photovoltaic panels or a biomass boiler at your school but need help with funding then we would be very keen to work with you.
Please do contact me you would like any further information.
Alex Agombar, on behalf on the Gloucestershire Community Energy Co-operative.