Solar PV (CEE status: Green - a business model to pursue)
As a mature renewable energy technology, well suited to community renewable energy projects, this is one of the most established areas of the community energy sector. Panels capture energy from the sun using photovoltaic cells. These cells do not need direct sunlight to work - they can still generate some electricity on a cloudy day. The cells convert sunlight into electricity, which can then be used directly on site (e.g. within a community building or home) or exported onto the grid. Community solar can be developed in many different ways, from installing small arrays on domestic properties to large arrays on community buildings or ground-mounted in the form of a solar park.
Key tips for getting started:
- You do not need to develop your own sites - there are many mature partners who can help you fund and deliver projects (see below)
- Try look for medium to large sites in your community - 50kWp usually needed
- Local Authorities can help you develop multi-site projects (see CEE case study & download below)
Mature organisations that can help fund and deliver projects (without experience or funding needed):
- Solar for Schools - interested in school sites
- Energy4All - interested in solar and wind business and school sites (download below)
- The Big Solar Co-op - interested in solar projects with active volunteer groups
- Baywind Energy Co-op - interested in solar, wind and hydro projects
Solar Case Studies
- Brighton Energy Coop - solar installation case studies, from the Community Solar Accelerator, which was a grant scheme run by Brighton Energy Coop and the EU Development Fund to provide match-funding to businesses going solar.
- Bristol Energy Cooperative's solar farm in Lawrence Weston
- Bristol Energy Cooperative's solar array at The Bottle Yard 2 Film Studios
Wind (CEE Status: Yellow to Red - one to hold off on)
Turbines (onshore and offshore) harness the power of the wind to use it to generate electricity. The UK has one of the best wind resources in Europe, making it an ideal place to construct a community-owned wind turbine. Wind turbines range in size from small 5-10kW models, up to multi-MW large scale installations. At the moment, planning restrictions in the UK make it difficult to pursue a community wind power project. For all updates on wind lobbying and policy updates, sign up to our newsletters at the bottom of this page.
Hydro-power (CEE Status: Yellow to Red - one to hold off on)
Uses running water from a stream or river to generate electricity. Small or micro-hydro systems in the UK range from sub 20kW systems up to large 100-200kW units. Hydro systems by their nature are often more complex and need a wide range of expertise and resources to be successful. At the moment, new costs to licensing make it very difficult to pursue a community hydro project. For all updates on hydro lobbying and policy updates, sign up to our newsletters at the bottom of this page.