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.
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.
Community Energy Warwickshire has announced that it is pressing ahead with its share offer to raise funds for its solar-powered hospitals scheme – despite the Government’s announcement on Monday of savage cuts to feed-in tariffs for solar power installations.
The scheme – which would see the installation of solar panels on roofs at Stratford upon Avon and Warwick hospitals – was launched on 24 October. But just one week later the Government announced that cuts of over 50 per cent in feed-in tariffs would be introduced on 12 December.
Community Energy Warwickshire has decided to press ahead to see how many panels can be installed before the 12 December deadline. Chair Keith Sinfield said: “We have decided to see what we can do to salvage the scheme in the short time available. The Government’s announcement has left us with a very challenging task, but we are determined to create a robust project along the lines on which we have worked for the last year.”
The scheme also includes plans to help hospital staff with energy saving, and this is also at risk as a result of the Government’s announcement.
In July Energy Minister Greg Barker described the solar powered hospitals project as “exactly the kind of project delivered through exactly the kind of partnership we need to see more of”. “Unfortunately, the Government is jeopardising this and similar community energy projects,” said Keith Sinfield. “We will be meeting Mr Barker in December and will be urging him to provide a supportive environment for community energy schemes.”
For more infomation about Community Energy Warwickshire and its share offer, go to www.cew.coop or phone 01789 290736.