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Community Solar PV

Paces Campus 50kW Solar PV Scheme

Sheffield Renewables are now actively looking to develop further renewable energy projects funded via our second Share Offer which we are planning to launch later this year. We have an established record of developing and delivering reliable and easy to maintain solar photovoltaic panel projects with a range of partners and building types.

Although you may think that Sheffield is too grey for solar panels, having less irradiance (the amount of useful sunlight we receive) than other European countries it is in fact beneficial for solar because:

  • The panels work more efficiently in Sheffield’s colder climate
  • The lack of direct sunshine in Sheffield means sites can be less sensitive to orientation

High latitudes and altitude have also been found to benefit solar panel efficiency. Sheffield, being the most geographically diverse city in England, has a good range of altitude (really steep hills!!). This means that there are fewer overshadowing issues.

Sheffield is also home to one of the main Solar panel testing facilities in Europe. The University of Sheffield’s Solar Farm is at the forefront of solar panel development and provide a wealth of publicly available data on solar.

Potential schemes

We are looking at schemes with a peak output of around 30-50 kW. These schemes would:

  • Require approx 200 – 400 sq. m of roof space
  • Cost £42,000 – £70,000 to install (funded through Community Shares)
  • Generate 20,000 – 44,000 kWh per year (that’s between 213,000 – 471,429 cups of tea!)
  • Result in carbon savings of approx. 12.5 – 25 tons of CO2 per year
  • Would take only 2 – 3 years before they see a carbon payback
  • Ideally be south east facing

Potential sites

We are planning to install panels on the roofs of buildings with strong community and social links, such as community organisations, schools, children’s centres and social housing.

Revenue

The schemes will make money through two streams of revenue:

Feed in tariff (FiT):

  • Introduced by the government to help them meet their renewable energy targets
  • Split into 2 parts, the generation tariff and the export tariff
  • Generation tariff is approx. 13.5p/kWh and the export tariff 4.5p/kWh, both linked to the Retail Price Index
  • FiTs are fixed for 20 years and once accredited the level of FiT will remain constant for that period
  • The government is offering some extra support for community schemes, such as reducing the level required for the energy performance certificate required to get the full FiT and guaranteeing FiT rates during developments of schemes

Sale of electricity to the building users:

  • This will be at a percentage below market rate

A modest return on investment will be paid to our investors. All further profits will be re-invested in further schemes and the community benefit fund. This fund will be used to support local environmental projects.

Project milestones

  1. Find a suitable building
  2. Assess the roof’s size, structural integrity and any potential problems with shading
  3. Set up a rental and power purchase agreement with the building users and check for planning restrictions
  4. Set up FiT contract
  5. Arrange for installers to install the solar panels
  6. Start generating low cost clean energy!

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