Ripple Energy can today announce that Derril Water Solar Park will become Britain’s first shared solar park. The project, developed by leading renewable energy company RES, will provide an alternative way solar parks can be owned and run in Britain. This announcement comes as RES, who developed the project, enters an agreement to sell its Derril Water Solar Park to a Ripple-managed co-operative.
Shared solar is a new, affordable and simple way for households to act on climate change and shrink their carbon footprint. From tomorrow, households across Devon and Britain will be able to buy and own part of the pioneering project located approximately 1.2km from the village of Pyworthy.
Ripple is ring-fencing 10% of the ownership of Derril Water Solar Park exclusively for those in the surrounding area and is urging interested local households and businesses to come forward. From Tuesday, 18th April, individuals in the local area will be given two weeks of exclusive access to buy shares from the ring-fenced portion of the project. Solar park owners will see savings applied to their electricity bill based on how much electricity their share of the solar park generates. By co-owning Derril Water Solar Park, members will be able to power their homes with local green energy and slash their energy bills whilst reducing their carbon footprint.
The remaining 90% of the people-powered solar park will be open to people across Britain. Ripple has already proven its model with two consumer-owned wind farms in Wales and Scotland (the UK’s first and the UK’s largest of its kind). Derril Water Solar Park will be Ripple’s third and most ambitious project to date and is an important milestone in its mission to make green energy ownership accessible to everyone.
RES will continue its involvement in the project, undertaking the construction and providing operational services once the solar park starts generating clean energy.
Sarah Merrick, founder and CEO of Ripple Energy, 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.”
Lucy Whitford, RES’ Managing Director – UK&I, said: “Bringing Ripple on board at Derril Water offers a new way for consumers to share in the benefits of renewable energy and play a part in fighting climate change. The ability for local households and businesses to get involved connects the community directly with the project. Ripple’s model at Derril Water provides a direct way for consumers to lower their energy costs at such a critical time.”
Increasing biodiversity and habitat creation around its renewable energy projects is central to Ripple’s approach. RES specifically designed Derril Water to ensure the solar park delivers a net biodiversity gain and ecological improvements across the site.
The site is currently predominantly arable habitats (primarily cattle-grazed improved grassland and grass leys), which are considered to be of low ecological value. Through plans created by RES, these areas will be transformed with the creation of new habitats, and planting species-rich grassland, native trees and hedgerows around the site. In addition, bird and bat boxes, hedgehog houses, dormouse boxes, bee banks and invertebrate hotels will be built to provide more habitat creation of key insects and pollinators which will increase the flora and fauna as a result of the development. It is anticipated that the number of habitat units will be increased by 90% and there will be an increase of 30% of existing hedgerows.
Ripple is ring-fencing 10% of Derril Water Solar Park for local households and businesses to buy for two weeks, so they can own and be supplied by their local solar park. In addition, the co-op will create a Community Benefit Fund which will provide £1,000/MW annually – expected to be up to £42,000 per year towards good causes in the local community. Working closely with the local community, Ripple and the co-op will determine how best the fund is used. RES has committed £15,000 towards the warm hub project at the local village hall and will match funds raised locally in support of the project.
Local contractors and employees will be used where possible during the construction of the solar park. RES has a strong track record of delivering significant local investment and opportunities through construction. The major opportunities arise during the construction phase when local firms are invited to bid for different aspects of construction. Contractors will be encouraged to source construction materials locally (i.e. within the county) and to use local transport and plant hire companies where possible, in addition to local services and amenities.
Torridge District Council retains 100% of all the business rates due from renewable energy businesses (solar parks and wind farms) to fund vital local services for all local residents. It is estimated the Derril Water Solar Park will deliver approximately £162,000 in business rates annually.
More about Derril Water Solar Park:
● Leading renewable energy company RES, who developed Derril Water Solar Farm, has entered an agreement to sell the project to a Ripple managed co-operative. Ripple will act as managing agent for a cooperative society whose members will own a share of the project.
● Derril Water Solar Park will be up to 42MW, with the potential to power up to 14,000 homes across Devon and Britain
● Just over 5 panels are enough to power a typical home for a whole year
● On average, the solar park will generate enough clean electricity to meet a home’s annual needs every 37 minutes.
● It will generate enough green electricity to save around 19,000 tonnes of CO2 each year
● During the development process, RES carefully identified and selected the project due to its viable grid connection, good solar irradiance levels, ease of access and positioning outside of any statutory environmental, archaeological and landscape designations.
● RES specifically designed Derril Water to be dual-purpose, enabling solar and agriculture to co-exist – less than 4% of the land physically occupied by the arrays and infrastructure, allowing agriculture in the form of sheep grazing to continue on over 96% of the site during operation.
● There will be a range of biodiversity enhancements around the site, including bee banks, wildflower meadows and new hedgerows; it is anticipated that the number of habitat units will be increased by 90%, and there will be an increase of 30% of existing hedgerows.
Image source: Courtesy of Ripple Energy
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