Derbyshire Dales Community Energy Amping Up Renewable Energy in the Derbyshire Dales – driving forward the Net Zero ambitions of both Derbyshire Dales District Council and Derbyshire County Council.
Plans for tackling the Climate Emergency by expanding the adoption of social renewable energy schemes across the Derbyshire Dales are being supercharged by a Matlock based community Energy group. Derbyshire Dales Community Energy Ltd a Community Benefit Society, along with a new partner organisation has identified potential to harness up to 1million Watts of solar electricity from sites around the Derbyshire Dales. Derbyshire Dales Community Energy Ltd (DDCE Ltd) has enlisted the support of Shropshire cooperative Sharenergy and has now partnered with another cooperative- Big Solar to help power up the process.
The first two Matlock rooftop sites, the food wholesaler John Palin Ltd and Twigg-both long standing family businesses have already passed feasibility assessments with a view to delivering 220 kilowatts of capacity, equivalent to around 25 average households – but there is scope to go far beyond that. Due to considerations of capacity in the local group and concerns about the risk and viability of the small size of the portfolio of confirmed sites, DDCE Ltd took the decision to develop the sites through the Big Solar Co-op. The Big Solar Co-op is a nationwide carbon-first non-profit working to install and operate PV arrays on sites across the UK. This had several implications for the project as initially defined: whilst we are still supporting raising share capital locally, these shares would be in the national co-operative. Installation and procurement would be done through the Big Solar Co-op’s pipeline. DDCE Ltd has gained pledges from Big Solar to use local contractors and to develop sites for local community benefit that might not be viable if considered in isolation.
Steve Martin the Chair of DDCE Ltd said: “We have identified an ambitious opportunity for us to ensure the longevity and stability of the group. The plan is to take community energy in Derbyshire to the next level by seeking to install 1mW worth of solar photovoltaics. “This will not only be providing a significant amount of renewable energy, but also will make DDCE more resilient to the potential risks associated with small scale solar PV. One of the main factors is that a good solar site doesn’t only need roof space for the PV installation. For a community project to be financially viable it's important that a large portion of the energy generated by the solar is also consumed on site.”
Derbyshire Dales Community Energy has worked with support from Matlock Town Council, Derbyshire Dales District Council and Derbyshire County Council to assemble a portfolio of sites that may host community owned rooftop photovoltaic arrays. 47 sites have been considered in the process, with a final portfolio of seven sites being brought forward. Four of these are confirmed and proceeding toward installation, with a further three sites still under negotiation. Structural surveys and planning approvals were successfully completed out on all four sites, and a tendering process for an installer was also carried out. Grid connection applications have been submitted for two of the sites with one successfully approved by project close.
DDCE volunteers have also been busy working to set up a community energy hub which could link all the existing, and potential new, projects around Derbyshire, so they can coordinate resources and mutual support. The aim is to widen the uptake of community energy activities across the county to realise the net zero carbon targets of county and district councils, and act as a catalyst encouraging wider community action.
For more details visit the Derbyshire Dales Community Energy website: