New ‘shared’ solar park given green light in Devon
A new solar park in Devon looks set to become Britain’s first “shared” solar park, with the 42MW site offering local households that chance to buy a stake in the project and apply green savings to their own electricity bills.
Ripple Energy has today (17 April) announced that Derril Water Solar Park will be a shared solar park. Developed by RES and Ripple Energy acting as a co-operative, the park enables households in Devon to buy and own part of the project, which is located outside the village of Pyworthy.
Ripple Energy has ringfenced 10% of the park’s ownership for households and businesses in the surrounding area, which have two weeks to purchase shares in the project. The households and businesses can then apply savings to their energy bills based on how much electricity their share of the solar park generates.
The remaining 90% of the solar park will be open to people across Britain and Ripple will launch a Community Benefit Fund which will provide £1,000/MW annually. This is expected to create up to £42,000 annually for the local community.
The Derril Water Solar Park will be up to 42MW, with the potential to power up to 14,000 homes across Devon and Britain and will generate enough green electricity to save around 19,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.
The solar park has also been designed with biodiversity in mind. RES is aiming to deliver a net biodiversity gain and less than 4% of the land occupied by the solar park will be impacted by infrastructure, meaning agriculture in the form of sheep grazing can continue on 96% of the site during operation.
Commenting on the announcement, Ripple Energy’s chief executive Sarah Merrick said: “By offering consumer ownership, Derril Water Solar Park will become a completely different kind of solar park, one owned by the people it supplies low cost green power to. We want Derril Water to become a blueprint for consumer-owned solar parks around the world.
“We want to create a wave of green energy ownership that enables people to make a real climate impact, as well as stabilising their energy bills. People from all corners of Britain will be able to co-own Derril Water Solar Park, and we hope as many as possible will become part of this pioneering project.”
Sharing the success
The UK is on course to double its solar capacity by 2030, but will need to treble it if the nation is to meet its net-zero target for 2050.
2021 was heralded as “potentially the most significant year to date” for the UK’s solar industry, which added 730MW of new capacity, an increase of 36% compared to 2020 levels.
Figures from Solar Energy UK showcased that the UK has added 730MW of new solar capacity, a 36% increase on 2020 levels, when 538MW was installed. According to the body, some 369MW installed in 2021 was rooftop solar, the highest total since 2015 when 839MW of capacity was installed. The 2015 levels reflect the “significant” subsidies available to solar at the time.
In total, solar PV capacity in the UK now sits at 14.6GW, up 5.3% compared to 2020 levels.
In 2021, it was announced that the UK’s largest community-owned solar park would come online in Oxford. Ray Valley Solar is located near Arncott in the northeast of Oxford and was connected to the national grid in 2022. The project will has a total installed capacity of 19.2MWp and aims to generate enough electricity to power over 6,000 homes annually.
The park is owned by social enterprise firm Low Carbon Hub, which believes that surplus energy produced from Ray Valley Solar will create more than £10m of community benefit funding over the project’s lifetime. The money will be spent on local initiatives that reduce energy demand across Oxfordshire.