Totnes community aim to power Clay Park with renewable energy

Residents at a new socio-eco housing development in Dartington could benefit from their own supply of affordable green energy, thanks to funding awarded by the South West Energy Hub in partnership with the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.

Community-owned Totnes Renewable Energy Society (TRESOC), working with Transition Homes Community Land Trust (THCLT), has been awarded a Rural Community Energy Fund grant of almost £30,000.  The funding will be used to carry out a feasibility study into the development of a solar photovoltaic (PV) array plus on-site battery storage and electric vehicle charging points at the 31-home Clay Park development.

If the study proves successful, a micro-grid will be set up to supply the site, taking renewable solar energy direct to residents at a below-market rate.  It is estimated that the PV array could generate 180,000 kWh of energy, worth nearly £30,000 a year*, on which residents will save approximately 10%.  As well as improving local energy resilience, this would save an estimated 45 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere annually.

Karl Tucker, Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership said:

“Our vision is to create a dynamic, highly prosperous region with high living standards and an outstanding quality of life, and clean energy is an important theme running through our activity, so I’m pleased to that the South West Energy Hub has awarded this feasibility grant.

“The scheme could not only help to improve quality of life for local people on lower incomes, but also make an important contribution to tackling the climate emergency. We look forward to hearing the results of the study.”

Sally Murrall-Smith, TRESOC’s Operations Manager said:

“The grant, worth £29,156, will be used to evaluate the economic viability of the scheme, design the system, determine the best technology mix, and cover organisational and legal costs, community engagement and project management.”

“We’re delighted that TRESOC has been successful with this grant bid, and we are looking forward to working with them,” added THCLT Project Coordinator Nicola Lang. “Delivering the PV array and micro-grid system will help us to reduce the environmental impact of the homes at Clay Park while making it more affordable for residents and supporting the local economy.”

THCLT has planning permission for 31 highly energy-efficient eco-homes at the progressive Clay Park development in Dartington, offering a choice of affordable rent or shared ownership for local people in housing need. It has invited TRESOC to become the energy supplier, and to own and operate the system.

TRESOC intends to raise the capital to install the solar PV panels, microgrid, and operating system, estimated to cost £180,000, thorough a community share-offer. Clay Park residents will be able to purchase shares in the scheme if they so wish.

Interest from the income to TRESOC will be distributed to local shareholders, strengthening the local economy, while boosting employment via local procurement rules. TRESOC will also develop an ongoing renewable energy education programme in partnership with local schools and Clay Park residents.

The feasibility grant was provided by the Rural Community Energy Fund, a government scheme administered by the South West Energy Hub in partnership with Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.

Jon Rattenbury, Programme Manager for the South West Energy Hub said:

“This innovative scheme is a great example of how developing local green energy can bring a wide range of economic and community benefits at the same time as helping tackle the climate emergency. We are really pleased to be able to award this grant funding to TRESOC and hope that other local communities will be inspired to follow their example.”

This is the second Rural Community Energy Fund grant to be announced in the Heart of the South West this week, the South Hams Community Housing project also won funding, see more information here.

Applications for the next round of grants from the Rural Community Energy Fund are now being accepted with a deadline of 14 September.  Feasibility funding of up to £40,000 is available to community groups developing renewable energy projects in rural areas of the South West. For more information and details of how to apply, visit http://bit.ly/swrcef