Solar City Farm
York Community Energy is currently putting together a project to build a ‘Solar City Farm’ – a city-wide solar farm spread across the rooftops of community buildings across the City of York area.
In the first phase we are looking to partner up with three or four community buildings – for instance village halls, schools, sports halls, churches, church halls, or other places of worship. We would pay a nominal rent for the roofs and sell them the electricity generated to the occupant of the building at below-grid prices. It may then be possible for power not used on site to be sold on to the grid.
The solar panels would be community-owned. This means that they would be owned and managed by a company set up solely for the purpose, funded and controlled by a community share issue – where one investor has one vote, irrespective of how much has been invested. Some proportion of the funds raised would then be disbursed into other community projects, according to the wishes of the investors.
The great cut in support for renewables of 2015 – as well as historically low energy prices – has made this more difficult, but by no means impossible. It is current not feasible to fund a project by selling energy through the grid, so one new criteria is that the building must be able to consume much of the energy generated on the roof onsite. It is also unlikely that we would be able to pay a significant amount in rental for the roof, meaning that the main benefit to the occupant is the discounted energy.
This all means that we have some pretty stringent criteria for a viable project:
- A large, south (ish) facing roof – something of the order of 200m2. This is a large church hall, small warehouse or sports hall.
- A building that consumes as much energy during daylight hours as the array will produce
- A good quality roof that is not expected to require renewal in the next 20-ish years
This sounds pretty tight, but there are lots of roofs in York that meet these conditions. If you can suggest one yourself, or help us reach out to site owners, please get in touch.
Download our solar project leaflet [PDF, 2.8MB] for more information – and please feel free to pass this on to anyone that you know who owns or works at a potential host location.