Community Energy Warwickshire is increasing its funding to local communities in the coming year by making more money available through its grant scheme for energy projects.
The grant scheme, which is administered for Community Energy Warwickshire by the Heart of England Community Foundation, makes available grants for energy-related projects in Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire. Grants are available for projects which aim to increase the energy efficiency of community buildings, raise awareness of energy issues, help develop energy industry skills, and tackle causes of fuel poverty.
During the current year, Community Energy Warwickshire has made available £5,500 to the scheme, which has helped to fund five local projects. In the coming year funding will increase by a third to £7,365.
Community Energy Warwickshire’s Chair, Keith Sinfield, who sits on the Heart of England Community Foundation committee that awards the grants, said: “Community Energy Warwickshire is a community benefit society. We put aside a third of our profits each year to fund grants that can tackle energy issues in the communities where we operate. In this way we aim to spread the benefits of local renewable energy as wide as possible.”
Two new members were elected to Community Energy Warwickshire’s Board at the society’s AGM on Saturday 20 June 2015.
Marc Eberhard, a lecturer in Electronic Engineering at Aston University, and Ruth Grinbergs, a recently retired property lawyer with interests in environmental law, were elected to the Board at a well-attended meeting in Church Lawford Village Hall. They replace retiring directors James Pavitt and Peter Pettifor.
The meeting had previously received Community Energy Warwickshire’s Annual Report and Accounts for 2014, a year which saw the installation of another 60 kWp of solar PV arrays on roofs at local hospitals. The year also saw the start of Community Energy Warwickshire’s grant scheme, which is administered by Heart of England Community Foundation. Five grants have been awarded during the year to help communities with energy advice, building insulation and energy audits, and the meeting approved a proposal to increase the amount disbursed through the grant scheme in 2015 in line with the rise in Community Energy Warwickshire’s turnover.
Following the AGM, a Special General Meeting was held to discuss and approve changes to Community Energy Warwickshire’s constitution to bring it into line with recent legal changes. The new constitution will now be sent to the Financial Conduct Authroity for regsitration.
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.”
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.
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.”