1 September 2016 Â -Â Community Energy Fortnight begins this weekend with events planned across the country to celebrate and promote renewable energy projects that are owned and run by local people for local people.
With Meadow Blue (Chichester) and Community Energy South groups Ovesco (Lewes) and Solesco (Arun / Chichester) opening the UKâ€™s joint largest community-solar array in July, East and West Sussex is at the heart of this energy revolution.
As such, the Meadow Blue will be hosting educational bike rides and a site-opening celebration on Sunday 4th September.
To bring the array into community ownership, people invested Â£1.25 million into the companyâ€™s crowdfunded share scheme. The operational site is predicted to generate 5,157 MWh of electricity per year, enough to power 1,235 typical homes.
Over half of its profits will be invested in a community fund, to benefit communities throughout Sussex with their own energy and environmental improvements.
Meadow Blueâ€™s director Dave Barton said: â€œWeâ€™re celebrating the site being operational, and as it seems like such a quick turn around and we wanted to show the communities around the site what weâ€™re doing and why. We are also keen to demonstrate how this could be beneficial to them and the fantastic biodiversity that we have in this area.â€
Ovescoâ€™s director Chris Rowland said: â€œCommunity Energy Fortnight is a great opportunity to promote the work these vital groups do, both raising the amount of renewables and using the profits to benefit community groups.â€
Meadow Blue worked closely with Mongoose Energy, which helps develop, finance and manage community energy projects.
Jan Willem Bode, CEO of Mongoose Energy said: â€œCommunity energy has the power to change the very nature of the way we finance and generate electricity, with the profits kept in the community.â€
â€œExisting and funded community solar arrays across the UK already provide enough electricity to meet the needs of over 30,000 homes. That is something worth celebrating. We expect to see more and more people coming together to create their own â€˜mini power stationsâ€™ like Meadow Blue in the future and we are ready to support them to finance, build, generate and sell renewable electricity.â€
The site visit
Meadow Blue will be hosting a site visit at the Merston Farm site from 12 noon on the 4th of September. The visit has been created for investors, supporters and those interested in more sustainable forms of energy.
On the site people will be able to ask questions about the project and discuss the progress of the reintroduction of plant and animal species now the site is built.
The bike rides
The option of a short (8 mile) and long (33 mile) circular bike ride have also been arranged for those wishing to visit the site and find out more about the area.
Those wishing to do either should meet at Chichester Station before 11am on the 4th. Members of Meadow Blue will then guide people along quiet roads and cycle ways to the site.
Those undertaking the short ride will head back to Chichester Station after the tour, arriving at approximately 2pm after a coffee or lunch stop at the nearby Manor Farm cafÃ©. Those undertaking the long ride will instead continue from the Merston site to another array at Ferry Farm Solar, near Selsey, and will have an expected return-to-Chichester time of 4pm.
If youâ€™d like to attend or find more information please contact Meadow Blue – Dave.Barton@meadowblue-energy.org.