Update – October 2015

AGM of HKD Energy

HKD Energy’s first AGM is on Tuesday 17 November from 6 pm to 8 pm in the Schering Suite at Downlands School.

Downlands School

Our Downlands Solar project continues to generate electricity from the sun, though as the days shorten the production will decline.  As of 30 September our panels on the school and sports centre have generated 66,874 kWh, so in about 6 months we have generated 83% of what we expected to generate in the course of a year.  A very good place to be, despite the best efforts of the seagulls to foul the top row of panels on the sports centre.  Cleaning and bird deterrents are to be installed at half term.  (Detail comparisons indicate the main school is running at about 5% above the projected output, whereas the sports centre has dropped to almost 5% below the projected figures – confirming the need for panel cleaning and bird deterrents. Overall the total generation is 1.4% greater than projected.)

The TiGo monitoring system gives us some interesting equivalents for the generation from the panels up to 30 September – it is equivalent to removing 266 vehicles from use, and is sufficient energy to boil almost 700,000 kettles.  The really impressive figure is that 35 tonnes of CO2 have been saved, equivalent to 1,145 trees planted.

Future plans

For those of us committed to shifting to a renewable energy system these are frustrating times.  A consultation paper issued by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) threatens to cut the Feed In Tariff rates by 87% as of January 2016 – or even to end them altogether.  The consultation has not yet finished so no final policy changes have been announced, but the prognosis for the solar energy industry is not good.  Already 3 large solar installation companies have gone into administration, including our local and pioneer company Southern Solar (founded by Howard Johns who spoke at our Downlands launch).

This uncertainty about government policy has made it difficult to proceed with our plans for new projects.  We have several sites under consideration, and once we know government policy we can evaluate their financial viability.  It seems likely that future projects will need to be sites that use all the solar electricity they generate (so schools and other sites with heavy daytime use will be ideal) since the income from exporting to the grid will be quite small.  Interest in ways to store the electricity generated in the daytime for use at night will also increase significantly.

As a community energy project we are committed to finding ways to move to renewable energy sources: the government is not making that easy, but we’ll keep working on it.

Meanwhile there are other community energy projects in our area with current or upcoming share offers, including:

Thanks to all of you for your interest and support of this project.

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