We’re pleased to be making the third round of annual interest payments to shareholders this month. If you are a shareholder and you haven’t received your payment, please get in touch to ensure we have your current contact details.
Solar Traction Project
Earlier this month we completed and submitted the report on our feasibility study looking at the potential of solar energy to power our south-east railway network. While solar PV is an increasingly important part of the energy system, there are no examples of solar systems directly supplying railways anywhere in the world.
The Riding Sunbeams project is led by 10:10, Community Energy South (CES) and other partners. In 2018 five local community energy groups including HKD Energy received funding through the government’s Rural Community Energy Fund for local feasibility studies. We commissioned Ricardo Energy and Environment to undertake the Hassocks study and CES led the commercial work.
As with any world firsts, there are issues to be resolved, especially on innovative aspects of the technical and commercial arrangements. The potential for community investment rests on negotiating an agreement to buy renewable electricity over the lifespan of the solar panels. So an important focus of this initial work has been engagement with Network Rail, who are strongly supporting the project.
The report, a summary of which is on our website, sets out:
- Solar energy projects need to find new ways to offer an attractive investment, now that there are no government subsidies.
- Possible grid connection options, and the capacity of the network to connect new generation via the Network Rail power supply system.
- The search for a suitable site for a ground-mounted solar array close to the railway near Hassocks, focusing on a corridor along the railway line north of the village. Seven possible sites were assessed for suitable area, size of solar PV system and grid connection cost. Several showed potential for 3-5MW of solar PV capacity, but a number have high risk constraints that would be expensive or impossible to overcome. Two sites were identified as the least constrained.
- Commercial arrangements: a long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the right pricing structure and a financially strong customer such as Network Rail is an essential component for achieving a ‘bankable’ or ‘investable’ project. Some key principles were identified to shape a PPA.
- Preliminary financial projections analysing costs, revenues and potential generation for a 3.8 MW scheme and a 0.77 MW scheme. One site shows indications of a potentially bankable solar PV project; in the next stages more accurate financial data will be gathered to improve the accuracy of the model.
- Potentially substantial benefits for the variety of ‘communities’ including both the local community where the solar installation is placed, and also rail-users, a community of interest, but not of geography.
More information: See the Riding Sunbeams progress report on the CES website – here
Next steps: The Riding Sunbeams consortium (which includes 10:10, Community Energy South and others) has received a First of a Kind (FOAK) grant from the Department of Transport and Innovate UK to test technical solutions, and finalise the commercial delivery model and PPA. Meanwhile, HKD Energy will continue to explore site options identified in this study. We will share information via our website as it becomes available.
Bec Hanley, Co-Chair Juliet Merrifield, Co-Chair
Nick Owens, Treasurer John Willis, Secretary