Although utility-scale may be suffering stagnation in the U.K. after the government pulled the plug on its favorable feed-in tariff rates, there are still a number of commendable PV projects going ahead. Solarcentury announced today that it has connected to the grid a 5 MWp community solar farm in West Sussex that will benefit local residents and the surrounding wildlife.
The solar farm near Merston in West Susssex, was developed for the Meadow Blue Community Energy (MBCE) community benefit society, who managed to raise the GBP1.2 million needed to fund the site, with a share offer, in less than three weeks. It was developed by Solstice Renewables and then built and connected by British company Solarcentury.
This has been an exciting opportunity for community energy in Sussex to scale up locally-owned renewable electricity generation, said Chris Rowland, Director at MBCE. Our share offer was launched on Ethex with 48% of investors living within 35 miles of the solar farm. Income from generation will not only pay our investors, but also create a community benefit fund aimed at alleviating fuel poverty and generating more low carbon energy for Sussex.
The area on which the 5 MWp plant stands is still being used for agricultural use, with the developers all committing to maximizing the biodiversity opportunities at the site. This includes allowing sheep to graze on the land over the winter, and implementing an ecological plan to promote wildflowers and biodiversity.
The conservationist feeling was even felt through the development and construction stages, as artificial lighting never used in an attempt to avoid disturbing wildlife. To appease any residents who may be thinking that the farm would be an eyesore, hedges and trees act as a natural barrier, with additional hedges planted after completion.
Solarcentury is delighted to have been able to build this community owned solar farm for MBCE, said Tim Rose, Sales Director Europe at Solarcentury. We have been engaged to build five such community projects to date and our experience at working alongside other partners involved in these projects has been essential given the tight project timescales. We also take pride in putting in place initiatives during construction that minimise the impact on local wildlife.