UK-based clean energy organisation Low Carbon Hub will be constructing what is claimed to be the UK’s largest community-owned solar park, a 19.2MWp project, using funding secured from Triodos Bank UK, Oxford City Council, and Project LEO (Local Energy Oxfordshire).
Low Carbon Hub, which builds renewable and smart energy projects to mitigate climate change and reduce energy costs, will build the new Ray Valley Solar park near Arncott in the northeast of Oxford.
Until now Low Carbon Hub has constructed 47 renewable energy projects for UK communities which are generating almost 4.5GWh of electricity and avoiding 1,259 tons of carbon emissions per annum.
Once complete in autumn 2021, the community-owned project will produce enough energy to power 6,000 community homes per annum and will create over £10 million ($14.2 million) of community benefit funding. The project will increase Low Carbon Hub’s portfolio of renewable energy by five times.
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Ray Valley Solar is a key trial site for Project LEO, a £40 million ($56.8 million) cross-organisational project that is conducting real-world trials to understand the role local energy can play in accelerating the transition to a zero-carbon energy system.
Dr Barbara Hammond, CEO at Low Carbon Hub, commented: “Ray Valley Solar Park is our first ground mount solar project, but it will be our 48th renewable energy project. We’re really pleased to be working with Triodos Bank to help make this project happen, an organisation with a strong track record and such closely aligned values to us.
“Along with their finance, we’ve also raised £4.5 million ($6.3 million) in investment into our community share offer, the Community Energy Fund. We were bowled over by the level of support for this share offer, which really demonstrates people’s enthusiasm for the project and support for a better energy system, one based on renewables that benefits communities.
“We want to make Oxfordshire an example for the world. To show how the right investment, used in the right way, can help meet our energy needs in a way that’s good for people, and good for the planet. This is another step to making that a reality.”
Chris Cullen, relationship manager at Triodos Bank UK, said: “As a bank that’s committed to addressing the climate emergency, as well as promoting social cohesion, we see projects like Ray Valley Solar as vitally important. Not only is this set to be the biggest community-owned solar park in the country, but the research and work that Low Carbon Hub and Project LEO are doing will have a wider impact across Oxfordshire and the UK.
“We need projects like this to demonstrate that community energy can play a key part in helping us achieve our net-zero targets, all while keeping profits within that community to further benefit local people.”