A COMMUNITY-FUNDED solar array started generating renewable energy at Shoreham Port on Friday morning.
The big switch-on of Brighton Energy Coop’s £250,000 array went ahead as planned, despite icy gusts of more than 40mph and pouring rain.
MP for Hove and Portslade Mike Weatherley was on hand to flick the switch and even agreed to invest in the next phase of what he described as an ‘inspiring initiative’.
After switching on the array, Mr Weatherley said the project demonstrated the real value of community-funded energy schemes.
“Brighton Energy Coop not only offers people an opportunity to invest in solar energy, and get a financial return on that investment, it creates work for local solar installers, and helps businesses and organisations reduce energy costs and become more efficient,” said Mr Weatherley.
“That’s why I am delighted to support this inspiring initiative.
“Community-funded energy is about local people taking control and making decisions, unhindered by bureaucracy, for the betterment of their immediate neighbourhood and beyond.”
The renewable-energy scheme, on the roof at Shed 10 at Shoreham Port, will generate enough electricity to power offices, a repair workshop and other port operations.
Electricity generated from the panels will be fed into the shed and a nearby office block, as well as the National Grid.
Peter Davies, development director at Shoreham Port, said that as a trust Port, Shoreham was very supportive of developments run by the local community and was keen to be a part of Brighton Energy Coop’s project.
“We now have more than 1,200 solar panels on the port, with another 800 planned for later this year,” said Mr Davies.
“This will help us to cut our energy bill and reduce our carbon footprint.”
It is the first completed stage of a three-phase, £700,000 project that, when finished, will generate more than 500kWp of solar energy.
Will Cottrell, director of Brighton Energy Coop, said he was thrilled to complete another solar array and thanked all the investors for their vital support.
“The completion of this latest array is further proof that Brighton Energy Coop’s model for creating renewable energy schemes in the city is an exciting alternative to more traditional ways of doing things,” said Mr Cottrell.
“With the obvious benefits to local businesses and organisations, communities and individuals we are confident we are on the right track.”
Brighton Energy Coop is now fundraising for phase two of the project at Shed 3A at Shoreham Port and is looking to raise an additional £232,000 to fund a new 200kWp array.
Once the second phase is completed, Brighton Energy Coop will launch the project’s third and final phase.
The firm is offering shares for phase two and anyone who is interested in investing can visit the company’s website, www.brightonenergy.org.uk
Investors stand to receive a projected five per cent return annually, as well as a potential 30 per cent tax break on their investment.