Ernesettle Community Solar
Managing our 4 MW community-owned solar array in Ernesettle.Read More
In 2016, we transformed 18 acres of derelict land into our first ground-mounted solar array, using £1m in community shares and providing huge benefits for the wider community.
Just an idea
Towards the end of 2015, we were approached by local economic development trust, Four Greens Community Trust, to explore putting a ground-mounted solar array on derelict land in Ernsettle (north-west Plymouth). Bordered by the River Tamar, a sewage treatment works and the MOD munitions store it was a tricky site! In addition, the government had announced drastic cuts to renewable energy subsidies.
We went for it!
The local community were supportive and understood how the project could benefit them directly. We didn't have much time! We certainly didn't have time to raise the amount of community shares needed to build the array before the cuts took effect. After weeks of negotiation and researching different finance options, we secured a short-term bridging loan, added it to a low cost loan from the council and got to work.
By March 2016, we had done it. 16,000 solar panels were generating 4.1MW of clean renewable energy, enough to power 1000 homes a year.
And we did it!
Once the array was built and feeding energy to the grid, we launched a retrospective community share offer and raised just short of £1m. Four Greens Community Trust receive land rent each year, investors receive a fair return and we generate a community benefit fund to support more projects addressing fuel poverty and carbon emissions in the city. In addition, the community array has become a haven for wildlife, a place for community events and a wonderful outdoor classroom for local school children.
"This fantastic community project shows Plymouth taking the right steps towards a world not reliant on fossil fuels."
Professor Iain Stewart MBE FGS - BBC Science Presenter and University of Plymouth