Community energy group celebrates solar-powered sewage success

A celebration yesterday marked the first anniversary of community-owned renewable energy being used to treat sewage from Bodmin. Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (WREN), South West Water (SWW) and Regen hosted the event at the 100kW solar array, which partially powers Nanstallon sewage treatment works. It also helps protect SWW from future energy price rises, which helps keep customer water bills low.

The array, constructed under contract by CleanEarth Energy Limited, a company based in Wadebridge, consists of 392 panels and covers half an acre of land right next to the treatment works.

Since it was installed, it has supplied the treatment works with approximately 110 MWh of solar power; around 10 per cent of the energy used by the site during that period.

WREN, which operates the array, established the Wadebridge Energy Company as a not-for-profit community benefit society. Wadebridge Energy Company uses the revenue from the solar panels to cover operating costs and expenses (including loan interest and repayments), and passes any surplus to WREN to finance further projects or to contribute to the community fund. A specific sum has been earmarked for projects to benefit Nanstallon residents.

South West Water’s renewable energy engineer Ray Arrell said: “A key element of our renewable energy strategy is to work with community groups such as WREN on sustainable energy projects, which will reduce our electricity costs and our carbon footprint. Delivery of this project was a first for South West Water, and we are engaging with groups in other localities to replicate it.”

Tony Faragher, chair of WREN said: “This project shows what can be done when different organisations decide to cooperate – projects like this are an important part of the decentralised and renewable energy network that all countries, including the UK, will need for a secure and clean energy future. WREN is pleased to have worked closely with South West Water, Regen SW and Clean Earth Energy on the Nanstallon project.  We look forward to working with colleagues from Lanivet Parish Council to administer the Community Fund that is generated by the Nanstallon solar array.”

Regen Communities project manager Jodie Giles said: “We have been working with community energy groups like WREN for more than five years, and supporting South West Water to engage groups so that they can develop projects like this. We are thrilled that this project is producing more clean energy, providing local jobs, generating money for more great community work from WREN, as well as keeping our water bills down. We look forward to seeing many more projects like this, and will continue to support community energy groups through our network to find partnerships as brilliant as this one.”

 

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