Wight Community Energy awarded ‘transformative’ £68k to further develop solar

Wight Community Energy has been awarded £68,250 to develop a number of renewable energy projects including work on the Homestead solar farm at Shalfleet.

The funding from independent trust Power to Change will allow the Isle of Wight-based group to work on monitoring and improving the biodiversity at the 3.95MW Shalfleet site, as well as investigate new ways in which the solar power can be stored to meet local demand.

Additionally, it will help Wight Community Energy develop other community-led energy projects on the island, through which the group will research, test and develop new business models in the production, delivery and storage of renewable energy on the Isle of Wight

Colin Palmer, director of Wight Community Energy, said the funding was “transformative” for the group.

“It has enabled us to increase our staffing levels and bring in consultants and project partners to work on ambitious projects that we could not possibly undertake alone. We look forward to getting these new projects off the ground and improving the renewable energy offer on the Isle of Wight.”

The group is to be part of the national Next Generation community energy programme. This helps to equip community-owned solar groups with knowledge, skills and opportunities allowing them to take ownership and develop solar assets.

Solar and other renewables are to play a key role on the island as it works towards net zero by 2050, and Wight Community Energy is working with grid operators, policy makers and the wider energy industry to deliver system transformation, it said.

Megan Blyth, senior project worker at the Centre for Sustainable Energy who are administering the grant on behalf of Power to Change, said: “This Power to Change grant will support Wight Community Energy in improving the biodiversity of the Homestead site, developing innovative pilot projects and routes to reducing the impacts of the grid constraints on the Island, and preparing for a successful community share-raise in 2021.

“We are excited to see how this will lead to the expansion of sustainable energy and innovative community-based projects on the Isle of Wight.”