Eight solar projects with a collective capacity of 35MWp have passed into community ownership in what has been described as the “biggest transfer of community energy assets ever in the UK”.
The ownership of these assets will be shared between five community businesses that have formed a partnership called Community Energy Together (CET); these businesses are: Wight Community Energy (WCE); Gower Power, which launched a community share offer for the 4.99MW Brynwhilach solar farm located in Swansea in October 2023; Kent Community Energy; Shropshire and Telford Community Energy; and Yealm Community Energy.
According to CET the transfer has increased the community solar capacity of England and Wales by one-fifth.
Facilitated by Community Owned Renewable Energy (CORE) – a partnership between social impact investor Big Society Capital and independent trust Power to Change – the deal is expected to provide over £20 million in community benefit funding from surplus revenues.
Colin Palmer, director at Wight Community Energy, said that the share of revenue the company earns will be used to help tackle the high levels of fuel poverty on the Isle of Wight – an issue plaguing the UK as a whole.
“Local and community energy is key to making the UK a clean energy superpower and building an economy that works for people and the planet,” said Tim Davies-Pugh, CEO of Power to Change
“Bold, collaborative approaches are needed to rapidly grow community energy at scale, opening new markets and bringing in institutional investment, whilst remaining embedded in local communities.”
Community energy is carving out an increasingly prominent role within the UK’s energy transition, a shift recognised by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) which committed £10 million to community energy groups in August 2023.