Solar So Good for Sheffield City Region

Sheffield Renewables is gaining momentum. The hard work of our dedicated alliance of academics, industry experts and skilled volunteers is beginning to pay off, with clean electricity now being generated in the local community. Our latest installation funded through community shares is a 50kW solar photovoltaic array, providing in-situ solar power to a primary school of 330 pupils.

In the development of the project, Sheffield Renewables worked closely as peer mentors for the Dearne Valley Eco Vision Project which itself has great decarbonisation ambitions. In a slightly different way of working, and by accessing government funds specifically for the purpose*, we applied our wealth of expertise to project manage the scheme and to lend support and advice to our eco-minded neighbours. As a result, a new community enterprise, Dearne Valley Community Energy, has now been established to undertake further schemes within the Dearne Valley.

The Swinton Fitzwilliam Primary School project is our second scheme to go live and start generating clean electricity  – the first being a 50kW installation at Paces Campus in High Green.

Swinton Fitzwilliam Primary School and their Solar Panels

You will have all seen solar panels before, and for some it’s hard to be excited by these smart, sleek and unobtrusive blue-black rectangles. We’re hard-wired to be excited by noise, heat, light and movement but solar panels have none of those features; they just lie in silence, usually on your roof, making clean electricity from the sun. This is the future of electricity generation, and it’s a future that Sheffield Renewables is helping the region to embrace.

Sheffield, as many of you will be aware, has seven hills just like Rome and Istanbul. It does not, as all of you will be aware, have Rome or Istanbul’s sunshine. It matters little; on a typical day under a steel-grey sky and with the mercury barely troubling the lower teens, plentiful electricity will be generated. Daylight hits the panels, electronic excitations occur, and electrical current begins to flow. Just like that. Is there any electricity generation method with greater finesse?

Two benefits are instantaneous: clean electricity and lower bills. Further benefits are lower CO2 emissions and cleaner air, resulting from a lesser reliance on fossil fuels. No NOx, no SOx, no VOCs. For the teachers and pupils at Swinton Fitzwilliam Primary school, this also means a tangible symbol of their commitment to the environment and a low-carbon future.

This is what Sheffield Renewables is all about. The generosity and spirit of its shareholders funds the planning, development, installation and operation of renewable electricity schemes for community facilities such as schools, municipal swimming pools, libraries and sports centres. The electricity generated creates revenues through the government’s feed-in tariffs (FITs) which partly help to reduce the electricity bill of the facility (e.g. a public library) and partly help to repay the investors. Any profits are fed back into further renewable energy schemes. Solar power is the current favoured option, but other options have been and will be considered.

We are a dedicated alliance of investors, supporters, shareholders, academics, industry professionals and skilled volunteers. Maybe you can help us. Maybe we can help you. Sign up for our newsletter, have a look at our website or get in touch, we are always happy to hear from you. The future is bright and clean and it belongs to all of us.

 

Written by Ryan Malcolmson, Sheffield Renewables volunteer

 

* Funding provided by the Centre for Social Action’s Community Energy Peer Mentoring Fund.

Photo (L-R):

John Healy MP (Chair of the Dearne Valley Special Board)

Paul Stewart (Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council)

Swinton Fitzwilliam Eco-Council

Brian Tinnion (Dearne Valley Community Energy)

Paul Cocker (Sheffield Renewables)

Dave Wilde (Dearne Valley Eco-Vision)

Chris Neil (Homeco Energy)

Vicky Helliwell (Headteacher, Swinton Fitzwilliam Primary School)

Kristy Smith (Swinton Fitzwilliam Primary School)