Image credit: Solarcentury
With solar prices falling dramatically in the UK, my own parents, who have also gone solar, have seen 4 neighbors within view of their house put up solar panels. But that's nothing compared to the town of Wadebridge, Cornwall. We already reported on residents' efforts to become Britain's first solar powered town, and their valiant push continues. But as solar panels start appearing on rooftops across Wadebridge, a Government rethink on large-scale solar puts some of the larger planned community-owned power installations at risk. Here's an update on the action so far.
Despite a promising start and a growing membership for WREN (Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network), the community's plans to generate 30% of its electricity from renewables by 2015 were hit hard by news that the Government would review its incentives for solar projects over 50kWp after a rush of commercial, utility-scale projects were launched.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of incentivizing large-scale commercial installations like this old tin mine turned solar power plant, WREN hopes that the Government will treat community-owned medium scale installations a little differently. And there are early signs they may be in luck. This from a Solarcentury press release about the company's partnership with the Wadebridge solar project:
Since Episode One, and the recording of this film, Greg Barker MP, Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change, has praised the WREN scheme publicly on the BBC's "Countryfile" and stressed his department is committed to encouraging such schemes. On 6th July, the Treasury published a consultation document reviewing their decision on FiT's (Feed-in Tariffs) for communities. But will it be enough?
Stephen Frankel, chair of the WREN board, said: "What Wadebridge has started has clearly pushed the Government to reconsider their policy on community schemes. They can see that where communities like ours take the initiative themselves, the benefits of renewable energy can be kept within the local economy for everyone's benefit."
More on Solar in the UK
UK Solar Prices Tumble, Installations Rise
Old Mine Becomes 1.4MW Solar Power Plant
Going Solar Revisited: Lessons from my Parents
Feed-in Tariffs Prompt Rush or Interest in Solar
Are Feed-in Tariffs a Rip Off?