The first subsidy-free community solar farm in the UK is now connected to the grid. The solar power project in the small village of Creacombe in Devon should provide 7.3MW of clean energy.
The first phase of the project generating 4.4MW was actually pre-accredited for the last remaining community Feed-in Tariff. However the second phase of the additional 2.9MW was completely subsidy-free.
The project was developed by Community Owned Renewable Energy Partners (CORE) along with Yealm Community Energy (YCE). Planning for the Creacombe Community Solar Farm began five years ago with construction starting in September last year. The project was undertaken in two phases, with the second stage being completed without any subsidies from the Government.
Investment Opportunities for Local Residents
The developers want the community-funded solar farm to increase investment returns for local residents. An invest offer is set to be launched in the summer to allow the community to invest directly in Creacombe.
The opportunity will also include a chance to invest in a nearby wind farm in Newtown Downs.
Creacombe Rides the ‘Solarcoaster’
The Chairman of Yealm Community Energy, Peter Brown, said: “It is over five years since Yealm Community Energy started to explore the idea of bringing a community solar farm to this part of Devon and we are very pleased that Creacombe has been able to navigate the ‘solarcoaster’ and is now complete and generating power. Both solar farms will be able to generate enough electricity to supply the equivalent of all the homes in our five local parishes helping to meet our net zero commitments.
“Equally important, once we have completed the share offer so they are community owned we expect to generate a healthy profit which will be spent locally to grow other exciting initiatives to tackle the climate crisis such as energy efficiency, electric vehicles and more green power generation.”
Subsidy-Free Renewable Energy Projects
Green impact investment advisory firm Environmental Finance consulted on the Creacombe project, with their Associate Director, André Sarvarian, saying: “Creacombe has been developed as a standalone grid-connected project, without the benefit of any pre-existing co-located renewables to draw from, which has required a completely different approach to structuring the project economics for standalone solar.”
Mr Savarian also called Creacombe a leading example which could stimulate the community energy market towards more subsidy-free renewables. He added, “These achievements demonstrate the economic case for subsidy-free community solar in the UK.”
There have also been 17 new community energy schemes started in London recently. Each has been granted funding via the Mayor of London’s Community Energy Fund. The fund aims to support local groups developing clean energy projects.
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