July 8, 2012

The Award Winning Eden Project Solar PV "Staff Share" Scheme

The 7th Annual British Renewable Energy Awards took place at the end of last month. It has just been announced that the the Eden Project's "SolarFair" solar power scheme achieved the "runner-up" position in the "Flagship Project Award" category.

Matt Hastings from the Eden Project in front of the "SolarFair" PV panels

Matt Hastings from the Eden Project in front of the "SolarFair" PV panels

The SolarFair scheme involved installing solar photovoltaic panels on the roofs of two warehouses on The Eden Project site in Cornwall. That's not particularly unusual, but the way the project has been funded most certainly is. According to the Eden Project blog:

The scheme, which we’ve developed in partnership with not-for-profit energy supplier EBICo, gives Eden staff the chance to invest in a programme which provides free renewable energy for the Eden Project site.

By sharing the benefits of the Feed in Tariff renewable energy initiative, the shareholders can receive attractive returns on investments as small as £200.

According to EBICo themselves:

Workers at the Eden Project will be entitled to purchase shares in Eden Solarfair in lots as small as £200. This will mean that even those on a limited budget will be able to make an investment in a project which will offer them the kinds of returns that, before, only wealthier individuals with access to large roofs could obtain. In return for free use of the roofs, all the electricity from the panels is supplied, at no cost, to the Eden Project, lowering this unique environmentally conscious facility’s energy bills and significantly reducing its carbon footprint.

According to the original announcement of the Eden Solarfair project:

This unprecedented initiative seeks an equitable distribution of the benefits of the Feed in Tariff (FiT) renewable energy incentive scheme and came about as a result of innovative thinking by Chris Goodall, the commentator on energy and environmental issues.

and it is:

The UK’s first employee owned renewables project.

Whilst browsing around the Renewable Energy Association web site I couldn't fail to notice another very interesting piece of news connected with the Eden Project:

  • A new independent technical report on the potential to generate heat and electricity in the UK from deep geothermal is published today by renowned engineering consultants Sinclair Knight Merz.
  • The resource is widely spread around the UK with ‘hotspots’ in Cornwall, Weardale, Lake District, East Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Cheshire, Worcester, Dorset, Hampshire, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
  • Deep geothermal resource has potential to produce up to 20% of UK electricity and heat for millions
  • Despite this significant potential, the UK support regime is uncompetitive with other European countries.
  • REA and Tim Smit urge Government to back ‘birth of a new industry’.

Note that "Cornwall" really ought to read "Devon & Cornwall". Do you suppose pigs will soon be flying in the azure skies above us down here in sunny South West England?

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