Introducing the UK’s first community-owned power station

Sensemaking / Introducing the UK’s first community-owned power station

Residents of Lewes in East Sussex have clubbed together to fund a 100kW rooftop PV array.

18 Jul 2011

Residents of Lewes in East Sussex have clubbed together to fund a 100kW rooftop PV array.

Harvey Brewery in Lewes, East Sussex, is going solar with a 100kW rooftop PV array, thanks to an innovative community-based fund. The £150,000 installation has been paid for entirely by local people and businesses who can expect a modest 4% return. But there’s more to come. Eventual profits will be ploughed into new projects over and over again, driving a cycle of low-carbon growth.

“This will be Britain’s first community-owned revolving fund”, says Will Dawson, who works on innovative financial models at Forum for the Future. The Forum’s Climate Finance project, which helps public sector organisations find ways to make money and cut carbon, has been supporting the social enterprise – led by Ouse Valley Energy Services Company Ltd (OVESCo) – for the past two years, along with a group of experts working on a pro bono basis.

“It’s really exciting to see OVESCo putting our guide to establishing and running low carbon community revolving funds into practice,” says Dawson. The Feed-in Tariff review hangs a bit of a black cloud over the Lewes project, he admits. He hopes the incentives will remain high enough to make a success of the project – and that this will help central government to recognise the wider benefits to the economy of local low-carbon investment. “But”, he adds, “it’s a race against time”. – Anna Simpson

Image credit: scottyh/istock

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