Philip Dunne MP has welcomed new support from government to community energy schemes, having a few years ago become a member of Ludlow Hydro Co-operative community energy project on the River Teme.
The government has announced a new £10m Community Energy Fund, which will help to tackle barriers to entry to the market by providing grants to the community energy sector to help them develop projects for commercial investment.
Alongside the new Community Energy Fund, the government has announced a consultation on the barriers the community energy sector faces, and an annual report on the community energy sector.
Mr Dunne this week visited Kerry Taste and Nutrition to see progress in installing solar panels on the roof of the food processing plant in Burford. The panels will be owned and operated by the Big Solar Co-op, a new UK-wide community solar organisation incubated by Shrewsbury based Sharenergy Co-operative.
The total installation at Kerry T&N comprises approximately 750 high quality, EU manufactured panels with a capacity of over 300kW - equivalent to over 1 million miles driven in an Electric Vehicle per year.
Kerry T&N is a major employer in South Shropshire and the reduction in operating costs resulting from the solar installation will help ensure the company continues to contribute to the local economy, especially at a time when other costs are rising sharply.
Mr Dunne said:
“I am very pleased the government has announced a new Community Energy Fund, with a new consultation and an annual report on the sector.
“I saw for myself at Kerry Taste and Nutrition the way in which imaginative community energy projects, such as the community funded Big Solar Co-op scheme here in Burford, can fund capital costs while reducing business operating costs, as well as reducing our reliance on traditional carbon fuel sources.
“It is also a great way for local people and businesses to invest in a renewable project in their community through the Big Solar Co-op. I hope we will see more projects in South Shropshire as this funding galvanises private investment and removes barriers to entry.”
Jon Hallé, Sharenergy CEO adds:
“The Big Solar Co-op has got lots more large solar rooftops in its pipeline all across the country. We are unlocking the huge potential of co-operatively owned solar on community and commercial rooftops, powering the way forward to a low carbon future.”
Photos: Philip Dunne MP with Jon Halle and Noël Lambert of Sharenergy at Kerry T&N in Burford.
Installation of Solar Panels at Kerry T&N in Burford.