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AGM celebrates a year of achievement

Nearly a third of Community Energy Warwickshire shareholders attended its 2013 Annual General Meeting on Saturday 1 June to hear about the co-op’s work in the preceding year – and to enjoy lunch in the early summer sunshine at the Lifeways Centre, Stratford upon Avon.

Shareholders heard how the solar PV arrays which Community Energy Warwickshire has installed at Stratford upon Avon and Warwick Hospitals had generated over 56,000 kWh of electricity in their first year, saving nearly 28 tonnes of carbon dioxide. And the co-op has been in discussion about four further solar PV projects during the course of the year, with the two largest the most likely candidates for development.

During the year Community Energy Warwickshire has also investigated the possibility of a hydro-electricity project on the River Leam and an anaerobic digestion scheme based in Stratford upon Avon, as well as discussing the development of an energy strategy for Garden Organic’s site at Ryton, near Coventry.

Looking ahead, the meeting approved donations to several local hospital League of Friends organisations, and heard plans to set up a charitable trust to co-ordinate its community benefit activities in the future.

Community Energy Warwickshire’s chair Keith Sinfield said: “The AGM is offers the opportunity to keep shareholders informed about Community Energy Warwickshire’s wide range of activities – and for shareholders to hold the Board of Directors to account for their actions over the preceding year. It was pleasing that shareholders are so supportive of our work to date – and enthusiastic for it to continue.”

Solar-powered hospitals complete first year

Community Energy Warwickshire’s solar-powered hospitals project, which saw 60 kWp of solar panels installed on roofs at Stratford upon Avon and Warwick hospitals, has completed its first year. And despite the poor weather during summer 2012, the panels have generated over 56,000 kW hours since installation – enough to save 28 tonnes of carbon.

The monthy records show the pattern of the local weather over the past 12 months – a sunny March followed by a dull April, a brighter May followed by a very dull June. The best day for generation for the larger 50 kWp array at Warwick Hospital was Saturday 26 May, when 345 units were generated – and the end of May was especially sunny, with 2,232 units generated in the week from 22 May to 28 May. At the other extreme, heavy cloud and snow prevented any generation at all at Warwick on 21 January 2013 – the middle of a week in which just 11 units were generated in total.

Community Energy Warwickshire director Roger Matthews, who has been monitoring the output over the last year, said there had been great fluctuations in generation day by day. “Last summer’s weather was recognised as particularly poor, and we had few periods of any length when the sun shone consistently. Despite this, the panels generated above their factory specification and have already made a contribution to saving carbon for the hospitals.”

Following the installation of the solar panels at Stratford and Warwick Hospitals, Community Energy Warwickshire has been working with South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, which owns the two hospitals, on energy saving sessions for Trust staff. The energy co-operative is also looking at a number of possible follow-on projects.

Energy Savers at Warwick Hospital

Community Energy Warwickshire has successfully run the first of a series of Energy Savers sessions for staff at Warwick Hospital.

The two hour sessions aim to help people to find out more about the range of ways in which they can save energy in their home – and to see how they can do this in practice!

Each session includes a talk on energy costs and ways to reduce them from David Jullien, Chief Executive of Act on Energy, the energy efficiency advice service for Warwickshire, as well as practical exercises to help participants see what changes might help them to save energy – and cut their fuel bills.

The sessions conclude with suggestions about ways in which staff might save energy at work – and so help Warwick Hospital cut its energy costs.

The sessions are part of a link up between Community Energy Warwickshire and South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, the body which runs Warwick Hospital. As part of this link up, Community Energy Warwickshire installed solar panels on roofs at Warwick and Stratford hospitals earlier this year.

Roger Matthews from Community Energy Warwickshire, who has helped organise the Energy Savers sessions, says: “When Community Energy Warwickshire installed solar panels on the roofs of Stratford and Warwick hospitals, it was the first time an NHS Trust had worked on energy improvements with a local community organisation. We are now taking this working relationship a stage further by supporting the Trust’s efforts to reduce energy use and energy bills through our offer of Energy Savers sessions to Trust staff.”

Further Energy Savers sessions are planned in December and in the new year.

Join Community Energy Warwickshire at the Small is … Festival

There’ll be a chance to meet local energy co-operative Community Energy Warwickshire at the Small is … Festival at Bourton on Dunsmore, Warwickshire, this Saturday and Sunday, 1st and 2nd September.

Community Energy Warwickshire will be sharing a stall with Transition Stratford all weekend, while on Sunday afternoon co-op secretary Barbara Cooper will be taking part in one of the Festival’s debates: Small vs Big – Meeting global energy needs sustainably.

“This is the second year that Community Energy Warwickshire has taken part in the Small is … Festival,” said Barbara. “As an organisation that’s seeking new ways for sustainable energy, we’re pleased to be able to contribute to Britain’s premier festival for sustainable thinking and practical action.”


Community Energy Warwickshire finalist for national award

Community Energy Warwickshire is one of five finalists for the Community Award at the 7th Annual British Renewable Energy Awards ceremony in London on Thursday 21 June 2012.

The Community Award, for a community group which has been active in developing a renewable energy project in their locality during 2011, is one of nine prestigious prizes to be awarded at the gala dinner, which is organised by the Renewable Energy Association.

Community Energy Warwickshire will be represented at the event by Secretary Barbara Cooper, who said: “Whether or not we win, it is a great achievement to be one of the five finalists for this award. At the beginning of 2011, Community Energy Warwickshire had only just been founded, but by the end of the year we had already installed the first phase of our solar-powered hospitals project. It is to the credit of our supporters that this achievement has been recognised by our inclusion in the final shortlist.”

AGM approves a successful year

Members of Community Energy Warwickshire heard of the sucesses of the last year at the co-op’s 2012 Annual General Meeting, held in Leamington Spa on Tuesday 22 May 2012.

Co-op Secretary Barbara Cooper recalled that at the 2011 Annual General Meeting “we did not even have a bank account”. But in the last year, Community Energy Warwickshire has successfully installed 60 kWp of solar panels at roofs at Stratford upon Avon and Warwick Hospitals, thanks to an innovative agreement with South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospitals.

Funding for the installations was raised through a share offer which raised over £100,000, and the project also involved the development of a new template for solar panel leases, which is now available to other community groups. Co-op members also heard how the project had to navigate the uncertainties created by the Government’s attempts to cut feed-in tariffs for solar energy installations.

Following the installation of the solar panels, the co-op has carried out an initial feasibility study of hte use of local food waste to generate energy through anaerobic digestion and it is launching an Energy Savers scheme to help households reduce energy consumption in the home. Community Energy Warwickshire’s newly expanded Board will be developing plans for future projects over the summer.

Community Energy Warwickshire is also a finalist in this year’s Renewable Energy Association awards.

Solar powered hospitals – mission accomplished!

Members of Community Energy Warwickshire will be meeting senior officials from South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust and local MP Chris White on Saturday 24 March to celebrate the completion of Community Energy Warwickshire’s solar powered hospitals scheme.

Trust Chair Graham Murrell and Trust Chief Executive Glen Burley will be among those seeing the new installation of 50 kWp of solar panels on the roof of Avon and Farries Ward at Warwick Hospital, which was commissioned at the beginning of February. The Warwick system followed the installation of a 10 kWp solar panel array at Stratford upon Avon Hospital in early December 2011.

Funds for the scheme were raised through the subscription of over £100,000 of capital by shareholders in Community Energy Warwickshire. Shareholders, many of whom live in south Warwickshire, have also been invited to the celebrations.

The commissioning of the solar panels at Warwick Hospital does not mark the end of the partnership between Community Energy Warwickshire and South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust. Community Energy Warwickshire will be working with the Trust to encourage energy efficiency improvements at the hospitals – beginning with the offer of Community Energy Warwickshire’s Energy Savers scheme to all Trust staff.

Turning up (renewable)power

More than two dozen members of Community Energy Warwickshire have joined senior staff from South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust to celebrate the arrival of solar power at Stratford Hospital.

Members of the south Warwickshire based energy co-operative joined Trust Chief Executive Glen Burley and Energy Manager Siobhan Hill to see the 10 kilowatt array of solar panels in action and to discuss next steps. The group was joined by Paul Hutchens, Chief Executive of Eco2Solar, the company which installed the panels.

The panels were installed on 7 December and started producing electricity when the sun rose the following day. Power from the panels is used within the hospital, with the Trust paying for the electricity at a discount to its standard bills.

Community Energy Warwickshire is now working with the Trust and Eco2Solar on plans to install a larger array of 50 kilowatts at Warwick Hospital during January 2012. Community Energy Warwickshire will also be working with the Trust to encourage energy saving by staff at both Stratford and Warwick hospitals.

Solar panels installed at Stratford hospital!

Community Energy Warwickshire’s first project was successfully installed last week – solar PV panels on the hospital in Stratford upon Avon.

Stratford hospital PV panels

The 10kW array was installed on 8 December, beating the 12 December deadline to ensure the scheme will qualify for the higher rate of feed-in tariff payments before the new lower rates are introduced.

Shares totalling nearly £100,000 have been purchased by investors in Community Energy Warwickshire – meaning we have enough funds to install a sizeable array of PV panels on Warwick hospital early in 2012 as well.

Approaching our target – one week to go!

Community Energy Warwickshire is more than half way to its target of raising £100,000 by 21 November in order to install a substantial array of solar panels at local hospitals ahead of the Government’s 12 December cut-off date. And with just a week to go, the south Warwickshire energy co-operative is hoping that further subscriptions for its shares will carry it to the full target.

The revised target was set by Community Energy Warwickshire following the Government’s announcement on 31 October that feed-in tariff rates for solar panels would be cut by more than half from 12 December. The announcement came just one week after Community Energy Warwickshire had launched its offer of community shares to install up to 70 kWp of solar panels on roofs at Warwick and Stratford upon Avon Hospitals.

“The response to our appeal for funding has been fantastic,” said Chair Keith Sinfield. “We had originally planned to raise the money during 2011 and complete the installations in the first two months of 2012. The Government’s announcement has meant bringing forward the deadlines for both fundraising and installation.”

Full details of Community Energy Warwickshire’s plans and of the share offer are available on its website. And shares subscriptions can be made on line as well as by post.