STCE Update May 2022

STCE are pleased to welcome Kevin Oubridge as the new Shropshire & Telford Big Solar Co-ordinator.  We look forward to working with Kevin on delivering rooftop solar sites across the area.

We can confirm that STCE is now fully constituted (FCA Registration 8829) and we have our own bank account with Unity Trust Bank.

Negotiations with CoRE re taking on Twemlows have dragged on over the last year but finally seem to have some momentum.  We have agreed to appoint Dave Green as our representative to the central board that will manage the final negotiations and the portfolio of sites ongoing.  As Dave was our Secretary previously that means we are looking for a new secretary.  If you’d like to help us deliver community owned renewables in Shropshire & Telford please get in touch (info@stcenergy.org.uk).

In the last few months we have also lost Nick Saxby who’s moved to Scotland & Naomi Wrighton, thanks to both of those for their input over the last two years.  That means we also need help with the website, social media & our newsletter, again please get in touch if you’re interested.

Meanwhile MEA have delivered a webinar on their work on Renewable Energy in the Marches, the results of that work can be found here,  https://mea.org.uk/our-work/meeting-the-marches-vision/

And Sharenergy have carried on working on the Bishop’s Castle Heat & Wind project on our behalf, for updates see, https://lightfootenterprises.org/climate-action/.

Lastly we have donated £5k each from the Twemlows Community benefit fund to the Lightfoot Home Energy Surveys and Park Lane Community Centre.

Update Oct 21

STCE Update Oct 2021 Community Benefit Fund.

Deadline extended to Wed 17th am.. 

STCE have been asked to distribute £20k of Community Benefit Fund money from the Twemlows Solar Farm.

£10k of this is available to community projects within 15 miles of the site at Prees Heath.  This money will be distributed by the Shropshire Rural Communities Charity, see https://www.shropshire-rcc.org.uk/.

The other £10k is available for environmental projects around Shropshire and Telford.  There is a maximum of £5k per project, organisations need to be fully constituted with a bank account and any expenditure already committed is not eligible.  For the full criteria and application form please email info@stcenergy.org.uk.  The deadline for applications is Nov 17th am and decisions should be announced by Nov 29th.

Also..

Marches Energy Agency have completed their very useful work on the scale of renewables required in the Marches to meet the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) targets.  We’ll post a copy on this website soon.

The Bishop’s Castle Heat & Wind project run by Sharenergy has moved forward very quickly.  A wind constraints study has been completed and a survey and public meeting have been held.  The meeting was very well attended and 122 survey responses have been received.  There is very strong support both the heat network (82%) and the wind turbine (79%).  A request has been sent to the Town Council for both the heat network and the wind turbine to be included in the town’s Neighbourhood Plan. See www.lightfootenterprises.org.

Both of these pieces of work have been funded through the grant STCE have received from Next Generation. see https://www.next-generation.org.uk/

Meanwhile discussions re the purchase of Twemlows Solar Farm continue slowly.  We expect to know more early in 2022 with a share offer possibly after Easter 2022.

 

STCE Update July 2021

STCE are still hoping to purchase Twemlows solar farm but the process of arranging the transfer of the portfolio of sites currently owned by CoRE into community ownership is taking much longer than anyone expected.  We hope to have news on progress in early September.

Meanwhile Power to Change have approved a Next Generation grant for STCE.  This includes money for setting up a Community Benefit Society, running a share offer and investigating ways of improving the biodiversity of the Twemlows site.

Money is also available for feasibility studies for other community renewable schemes in Shropshire and Telford and Sharenergy have been contracted to carry out this work.  The most promising project at the moment is for a heat network and wind turbine combination in Bishop’s Castle, but we are also looking at other schemes.

Marches Energy Agency (MEA) have also been funded to look into the scale of renewables needed in Shropshire and Telford to meet net Zero targets, a report on this will be issued shortly.  MEA are also carrying out some work on energy efficiency and community networks.

STCE have also been asked to arrange for the distribution of £20k of Community Benefit funds from Twemlows.  £10k of this is set aside for community projects local to Whitchurch, this money will be managed by the Rural Communities Charity.  The other £10k is available for environmental projects across the whole of Shropshire and Telford, please get in touch if you would like to apply for some of this money.

 

 

News Dec 2020

Dec 2020 STCE Progress Update
2020 certainly has been an interesting year, but despite all of the challenges, we have been making steady progress with the Shropshire and Telford Community Energy project.
Our board of founding members have been busy all through lockdown attending webinars and meeting with our partners and supporters.
We have already started exploring how we might partner with existing schemes and businesses throughout the Shropshire and Telford region, and we have been working hard on developing our long-list of the sites and projects we might be able to support.
If you have a suggestion of an interesting lead, then get in touch; we would love to hear about any new opportunities.
We already have had landowners contact us eager to develop new renewable energy generation, and local community groups approaching us to discuss how we can support them.
Most of our work has been ‘behind the scenes’ for the moment. Our business plan is drafted and we are looking forward to publishing it, to share our vision for STCE’s future with the public. We have also been finalising and writing our policies; these too will be available for the public to review, through our new website which is currently under construction.
Unfortunately, due to uncertainties produced by covid-19, the process of taking over Twemlows has been somewhat delayed, so we now hope to be issuing a share offer in about June 2021. In the meantime, we have successfully completed our application for grant funding from the Next Generation project. We are expecting to receive initial funds that help us get underway with our important work, energising and empowering local communities.
Twemlows Visit

STCE has been founded, in part, to take on the management of the 10MW solar array at Twemlows farm, near Whitchurch, in the north of Shropshire. The profitable site is expected to produce surpluses which will channel into our community benefit funds.
In July, the board of founder members had the opportunity to visit Twemlows Solar Farm.
As a result of covid-19 restrictions, we had almost exclusively been working through virtual meetings and webinars. It was great for us to all finally get to visit, meet the landowner, and talk face-to-face with each other (all socially distanced of course).
We learned a great deal about the history of the site and how it’s managed. It is an impressive renewable energy resource; 40,000 solar panels spread over 23 hectares; generating enough electricity to power 3300 homes a year.

Since this visit, one board member has been back, to explore the site with the conservation manager of Shropshire Wildlife Trust, in order to assess the potential for improving the value for biodiversity. A lot of potential was identified, and we are working on implementing plans as soon as possible.
Survey Results

In August, we put out a survey to the people of Shropshire and Telford, asking them their thoughts on local renewable energy.
The results were very encouraging. We asked: How important is developing more renewable energy locally? Over 57% answered ‘extremely important’, and 24% answered ‘very important’.
We also asked people what type of renewables they favoured. Solar generation, both rooftop and large arrays, were the most popular. Solar farms specifically had nearly 86% support from our respondents. Biogas was significantly less popular, with less than 15% of our respondents saying that they would support it. Some of our respondents also gave us some suggestions; we were told that ground source heat pumps, and geothermal generation would also be supported.
We asked people about the carbon-reducing projects they would like to see. Over 90% of our respondents said that they would like to see household energy efficiency improvements. The next most popular option was for increased electric vehicle charging points; over two thirds of our respondents supported this.
When it came to asking people how likely they were to invest in community energy schemes, the results varied considerably: As many people were ‘very likely’ as ‘very unlikely’. However, 62% of our respondents were at least ‘likely’ to consider investing.

Although this was a small-scale survey, and was very speculative, overall, the results were positive, and reassure us that there is appetite for renewable energy development and sustainability initiatives locally.
Solisco Presentation
As part of our outreach to local businesses, we invited Telford-based green technology entrepreneur Parveen Begum, from Solisco, to speak to our board this September.
Parveen has been included in the prestigious Forbes 30 Under 30 (Europe) list for manufacturing and industry.
The list, compiled by the world renowned business magazine Forbes, ranked her as one of Europe’s 30 most influential industrial entrepreneurs under the age of 30.
Solisco is a green technology developer, based in the Business and Technology Centre, on the University of Wolverhampton’s Innovation Campus in Telford.
Parveen showcased a range of cutting edge projects in the field of solar-powered EV charging ports. She also explained the technical aspects of the solar carport designs she’s working on.
We learned a lot about the types of projects that might have potential locally, giving us a great deal of inspiration about what we might be able to support.
Local Electricity Bill
We have been supporting the ‘Local Electricity Bill’; a proposed item of legislation to reform how renewable energy is sold to consumers.
The bill seeks to amend regulations in the energy sector which currently prohibit renewable energy producers to sell directly to local consumers. Current arrangements favour large energy companies, and stifle small scale renewable energy production. If the bill passes, it will make local green energy projects financially viable by lowering the barriers to entry to the energy market.
STCE’s board passed a motion to formally endorse the bill, and signed up to join the coalition of other organisations which do too.
See https://powerforpeople.org.uk/the-local-electricity-bill/
Dave’s Letter to the Star

At the start of September, a gentleman wrote a letter to the Shropshire Star, criticising renewable energy and the electrification of transport. Well, our secretary, Dave Green, was having none of this, and wrote an insightful and evidenced response in a letter of his own. Have a read:

Dear Shropshire Star.
I have no idea where L Jenkins gets his data from re renewables but I can assure him that at 5pm on Friday 4th September in the UK a whopping 37% of the UK’s energy was coming from renewables, with 9,640MW of wind, 1,820MW of solar and 280MW of hydro. Plus 290MW of pumped storage, much of which is derived from spare renewables overnight. Since 2013 the amount of electricity generated by coal has dropped from 17GW to virtually nothing, mostly because of the rise of renewables with some help from energy efficiency.  These figures are freely available at www.grid.iamkate.com and are confirmed at the gridwatch website mentioned by Mr Jenkins. Some days there is less wind available but it’s normally windy somewhere and there’s hydro, solar, storage and interconnectors to spread out the load.
Yes more electric cars and heating are going to increase the need for renewables, but plans are in place to satisfy that need.  Not that everyone should swop their fossil cars for electric ones, electric cars will be an important part of a mix alongside electric bikes, better public transport, more cycling and walking and reducing the need to travel. Ofgem expects 10 million electric cars by 2030, and they are confident the grid can cope with that level of demand with a rise in renewables and more energy efficiency.

I’m not an astrophysicist but I do have Maths and Physics A levels and two degrees, so I’m not one of the innumerate, non-technical people that Mr Jenkins seems to think are leading us astray.  It’s time Mr Jenkins reviewed his prejudices and got behind the renewables transition, it’s happening whether he likes it or not.

STCE News June 2020

The Shropshire and Telford Community Energy working group have been busy over the last couple of months, finding out what’s required in running a community energy society.

We’re looking at what other groups have been doing, discussing model rules, studying the roles of directors, thinking of PR campaigns etc.

We aim to have the community benefit society set up in July and be in a position to launch our share offer in October.

We are awaiting a revised version of the financial model for buying Twemlows but it now looks as though there will be a bond offer shared amongst all the six organisations in the CoRE portfolio with us having to raise around £700,000 through a community share issue.*

We have four volunteers willing to stand for the main posts of the society: Robert Saunders as Chair, Tim Baldwin as Vice-Chair, Fran Hunt as Treasurer and Dave Green as Secretary. These four are assisted by Howard Betts, Naomi Wrighton, Nick Saxby and Rebecca Tee.
Nick has offered to set up facebook and twitter accounts, Dave is looking after the website.

As part of the CoRE Next Generation programme we’re also being offered a grant for feasibility studies for further community energy schemes in the Shropshire and Telford area.

If you have any ideas that you would like to have added to our long list please email info@stcenergy.org.uk We’ll have a good look at all ideas but obviously we can’t promise they’ll all be taken up. 

A word from our Chair-elect, Robert Saunders: “I am very happy to be in this role whilst looking to colleagues for much support in this challenging task.  Much work will have to be done in a short period of time.  We are learning quickly with much professional help from our partners.  I look forward to being able to launch our share offer to Shropshire and Telford folk and wider afield.”

Nick Saxby comments that “Being a part of this project has been challenging and rewarding. My background is conservation and education, so I’m really interested in promoting sustainability generally, but I didn’t have experience in the renewable energy sector. There has been a lot to learn about the technicalities of managing a project like this, but thankfully, STCE and the broader consortium has put me in contact with a fantastic network of skilled, experienced and, importantly, helpful professionals, who have made the process very enjoyable.

“The covid-19 lockdown has itself been a challenge, but also an opportunity to build networks and learn new things digitally: I’ve never had so many webinars! I’m passionate about working for the benefit of local communities, and I’m optimistic and ambitious about what STCE is going to be able to achieve in the coming years”.

* Bonds are normally a shorter term investment, up to ten years with an agreed repayment schedule and interest rate.  Shares are a longer term investment with the capital repaid gradually but as finances allow.  Only shareholders are members of the society. More details will be contained in our share offer document. 

Best wishes,

Dave for the STCE Working Group

Working group established

We managed to run one face to face meeting to kickstart the working group in Ash Village Hall on March 14th, just before the lockdown.  We’ve had two online meetings for those who couldn’t make it on the 14th and will be holding further online meetings for the working group during April & May.  It will be harder for the working group to get to know each other without face to face meetings but we’ll just have to manage.

STCE launch success

We had over 50 people attend our launch events in Whitchurch, Shrewsbury and Wellington with 22 people indicating they’d like to take part in the next working group stage and 14 indicating a willingness to become a Director.  Many thanks to Keith from CSE, Simon from Co-operative Shares Unit, and Julia from Shropshire RCC.

You can see the slides from the event here

It’s not too late to get involved.

We will have another event in Bishop’s Castle 2pm Fri 21st Feb, at the 3 Tuns.

and a webinar 7pm Wed 26th Feb,

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/x/shropshire-community-energy-webinar-get-involved-tickets-93926543821

We have also visited the Twemlows site  and met with the landowner and operations manager, both of whom were interested and supportive. The site appears to be well built and well maintained.