Community Solar

The AURORA Project in the Forest of Dean aims to install at least 200 kWp community solar on public and community asset buildings.  This rooftop solar PV installation will reduce carbon and electricity bill costs for the building operators as well as act as a demonstrator for other replication projects in the Forest of Dean.  Our community solar installation will be in Lydney, at Lydney Leisure Centre and the adjoining secondary school, The Dean Academy.

It was agreed that a community investment model would be the best approach. Following initial community consultation, the model that was selected involved working with Big Solar Co-op, an existing community solar energy co-operative partner to complete technical tasks, contract development, installation, and operation of the community share offer.  Read our latest news article about Big Solar Co-op to find out more about them and how AURORA FOD has partnered with them. 

Forest Community Energy (FCE) was set up to support this work and develop additional projects to replicate this approach.  FCE work closely with Big Solar Co-op to identify new sites for replication and develop the skills and knowledge for designing solar projects, and will be key to raising investment from local residents to fund this and more Big Solar Co-op projects in the Forest of Dean. We are aiming to raise approx. £175,000 via community shares to match the cost of the solar PV installation.

Image showing a poster promoting an opportunity to invest in clean energy in the Forest of Dean. The poster has images of people, solar panels and building types with links for information on how to invest.
FCE/Big Solar Coop co-branded poster to promote the Big Solar Coop share offer to raise investment from residents in the Forest of Dean (Source: Centre for Sustainable Energy)

Phased development

Our community solar installation in Lydney and is in two phases. Phase 1 is Lydney Leisure Centre (swimming pool roof) and Phase 2 is several rooftops across the site of The Dean Academy, including the Sports Hall roof.  The design is being finalised and depending on the results of a building structural survey, our total installation size will be from 200 kWp to 300 kWp.  This approx. 800 panel array will have an estimated annual output of 276,536 kWh.  It will save approx. 53 tonnes of CO2 per year with approx. £477,000 in cost savings over a 20 year period.

Big Solar Co-op will install solar PV panels that are high quality, ethically sourced and the most sustainable.  Most of the power generated will be used by the leisure centre and the school, purchased at a much lower price than standard grid electricity.  Any solar energy that is not used on site will be exported to the grid and sold.

This project is complex due to multiple stakeholders including building owners, leaseholders, building operators and electricity bill payers.  Many permits, approvals, technical surveys and legal documents are therefore required to progress the project.  Progress to date includes:

Once legal documents are signed and the Department for Education and planning applications are approved, we can launch the share offer and set an installation date.

The next tasks will be completion of the building structural survey, legal documents and Power Purchase Agreement, and the grid connection, planning and Department for Education applications.  Once we have received the necessary approvals an installation date will be set.

Watch this space for more developments in our project!

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