Wadebridge in North Cornwall has begun installing solar panels on buildings across the town.

The town has set itself a target of generating at least a third of its electricity from solar and wind power by 2015.

The project is being run by the Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (WREN), a not-for-profit co-operative.

WREN aims to have 1MW of solar installed across its buildings by April 2012 and 7MW by 2015.

The Network is also exploring other technologies to help reduce the towns’ dependence on fossil fuels, including wind; tidal stream generation; biomass and renewably generated electric transport.

WREN has launched a ‘Solar Club’ offering building owners competitive rates on solar PV by pooling purchases.

Those who do not want to pay for the up-front cost will have systems owned by the ethical bank Triodos – who will reinvest the Feed-in tariff income in other renewables projects and ethical, sustainable business opportunities.

The current feed-in tariff limitations could prove a handicap for the project, however.

WREN founder, Stephen Frankel, said: “In contrast to recent green announcements, their success could be limited due to Government proposals to restrict the size of solar installations in the UK.

“Proposals to limit the Feed-in tariff, payment for clean electricity, to small 50kWp systems means the town wouldn’t go ahead with mid to large scale projects which would bring much needed income into their community fund and help the town meet their renewable energy targets.

WREN is also planning a “solar allotment” scheme in conjunction with local company e-tricity, where members could own shares in larger projects.

The scheme is on hold for now due to the government’s proposed changes to the tariff.

WREN says the scheme would produce electricity for a quarter of the town’s domestic needs and an estimated £2.5 million over 25 years for the community fund.

The funds would be spent on fuel poverty alleviation, funding energy efficiency measures and more renewables around the town.

Alison Brown

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