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NCS Newsletter October 2021

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Welcome to the NCS Newsletter keeping members and supporters up to date with projects, meetings, and events of interest to community energy!

Sun-days Schools – solar canopies for local schools

We are developing an innovative offer to local schools. Most primary schools need to provide shaded space in the playgrounds. By using the same systems developed for car parks, we can provide shade/shelter for outdoor activities and provide zero carbon electricity to the school. Schools also have car parking space of course, that takes up a lot of space but generates little value. We can also offer to cover these with solar panels, providing more zero carbon electricity and also charge points for electric vehicles. This will extend the offer to secondary schools and colleges.

The initiative builds on the growing success of PV systems built over commercial and municipal car parks. It is an elegant solution to help reduce schools’ energy bills, with the added benefit of providing shade, and without the complications of rooftop installations. A car-canopy approach also avoids difficult choices over sports fields or potential future developments by leaving existing land intact.

Our aim is to develop a standardised modular package to keep costs down that is applicable to all school sizes. It will boost their resilience to energy prices and climate change while demonstrating a valuable learning opportunity to students.

If you have any insights that could help, NCS member John Moore is leading on this project, please contact him at john.moore@nzcservices.com. 

Solar canopies

Solar for Schools Bonds

If you want to support solar energy in schools, the Solar for Schools bond offer is currently open, looking to raise £2 million for conventional roof-based installations. To date, Solar for Schools says its installations have generated 19,228 MWh of solar electricity, enough to drive an electric car around the world 2,399 times and avoid 7,802 tonnes of CO2.

Solar for Schools also works with pupils on educational programmes, giving them invaluable insights into the future of renewable energy generation. Norwich Community Solar has not investigated these claims and is not offering advice on the advisability of this investment.

NOW and NEXT webinar

On 7th October, Community Energy England and the Next Generation programme hosted an all-day webinar covering every aspect of community energy practice today with some brilliant speakers. It looked at a wide variety of local community energy projects, ranging from independently funded car charging facilities in villages and towns of the North West, to working with developers to implement a microgrid in a new housing development near Totnes.

The Brighton Energy Coop presented the development of a ‘credibility ladder’ that enabled their community energy (CE) group to get involved in more complex and high profile projects. Its derisking by ‘doing and delivering’ model is one way to attract Local Authorities to work with  local CE groups. Brighton Energy Coop has now found that subsidy-free PV is viable at 9.5p/kWh of energy sales for arrays in the order of 200-250kW installations.

A full recording of the event can be found on YouTube here and copies of the event slides are on YouTube here.

Community Energy

With a looming gas crisis and COP26 putting energy firmly in the spotlight, there is a growing urgency for alternative models of power generation. That’s one reason we are all involved in community energy: it potentially offers a faster route to decarbonization – alongside all the advantages of community engagement – if the Government would get behind it and provide a supportive legislative environment.

In “Will community energy finally get its moment in the sun?”, Coop News looks at the work of Community Energy England (CEE), which is lobbying hard for change.And you can check out the reasons why CE represents a faster route to Net Zero by consulting the CEE 2030 Vision and the current State of the Sector report.

If you would like to learn more about Community Energy in the UK, there are two new detailed reports available. The first, Enabling Community Energy in the North-East of England, looks to understand the structure, mechanisms, models and support that would enable the successful development and delivery of community energy projects in the area covered by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP).

The second, Cities and Community Energy, comes from Community Energy London and looks at the broader issue of urban community energy.

COP26

Community Energy England (see Community Energy, above) is also working closely with the UK government on its preparations for the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow (31 October to 12 November).

CEE is looking for 25 community energy showcases from across the regions and will be attending COP26 to show how community energy is essential to achieving net-zero on UK (and international) policymakers. It hopes to get a community energy event in Glasgow, photo opportunities and lots of publicity and it is convening a community energy bloc on the climate march in Glasgow on 6 November. If you’re there, or near, join in with your banners.

Find out more about what CEE is doing in preparation for COP26 and, if you would like to engage with CEE’s COP26 activities, contact Henry, the COP26 Community Energy Mobiliser: h.bettley@communityenergyengland.org

Norwich Science Festival 2021

Norwich Science Festival 2021 returns on Saturday, 23 October and runs to the following Saturday, 30 October, by when there will have been 198 events across the city.

The festival bills itself as “a celebration of all things science” for all ages and all levels of knowledge. It’s a chance to explore the wonders of the universe, meet the scientists whose research has changed our world and debate some big questions with some big-thinkers.

One highlight from the 47 climate change and sustainability events: on the opening day, 23rd October, “A Bold Vision of Hope for a Sustainable Future” has a panel that includes Jonathan Porritt (4pm – 5.30pm: Blake Studio, Norwich School).

Norwich Climate Commission

Applications are now closed to become a Norwich Climate Commissioner. The volunteer commissioners will represent the public, private, and third sectors, alongside local communities. The commission itself is intended to help generate awareness and use of best practice to support the city’s environmental targets and contribute to the Norwich 2040 City Vision Covid Recovery Group and other key organisations, groups, networks and communities across the area.

Such initiatives aren’t new in Norwich. A similar forum called the Norwich Independent Commission on Climate Change was convened in 2010 and made very good recommendations – although, sadly, there seems to be little evidence of its advice being implemented.

Power Partners – a community investment fund from UK Power Networks

UK Power Networks – the company that owns and maintains electricity infrastructure in our region – has launched a fifth round of its Power Partners initiative, open to applications until October 25.

Not-for-profit organisations and community groups are invited to apply for sums of between £2,000 and £20,000 for initiatives that combat fuel poverty, or support people in vulnerable circumstances by increasing their energy resilience. For further information.

Big Solar Co-op

Looking for more info on how to get community energy projects off the ground? If you want to help make new subsidy-free solar happen in your area – or support others to achieve this goal – Big Solar Co-op’s free training events are for you.  You can see listings of events, sign up to be notified about forthcoming events, or catch up with webinar recordings. Recent topics include: Finding community solar sites and Approaching host sites.

Upcoming events:

  • Open discussion about How To Best Support Vulnerable Clients In The Current Energy Costs Crisis, online 28 Oct
  • Innovation Lab webinar with Bath & West Community Energy, online 11 November

Links & reports:

Other CEE Links:

  • You can find information about the RCEF and other sources of funding for the sector here.
  • Community energy share offers, including Charge My Street, Bath & West CE, and Carbon Co-op’s People Powered Retrofit.
  • COP26 resources/newsletters and CEE’s policy & advocacy activity.

Norwich Community Solar – our future

In the process of investing our time and energies in recent funding bids we have broadened our connections and strengthened our network of contacts with local councils, businesses and potential future partners. Current government policy and the regulatory framework does not make it easy to develop viable community solar but the context is evolving and examples in this newsletter show they are possible. We have to be ready to take advantage of the opportunities when they come along. NCS membership is healthy with now 89 members. If you are not already a member please sign up via our website: NCS Membership.

As a Community Benefit Society we also willingly accept donations via the same page!

Integrated solar and battery storage scheme in Norfolk?
NCS is keen to work with builders and developers to carry out a feasibility study for a housing and community integrated solar and battery scheme. Let us know if you are aware of potential for such a scheme and contacts for us to follow up. Please e-mail: info@norwichcommunitysolar.com

Spread the word!
Please share this Newsletter with others and your contacts who may be interested in supporting or getting involved in community solar. The more we network, the broader our contacts and the better placed we are when opportunities arise!

Norwich Community Solar · Church Road · Cantley · Norwich, NR13 3SN · United Kingdom

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