Update – September 2015

Our Downlands solar panels have been producing well (despite the mixed summer weather).  Since they came online in early March to the end of August the panels generated 59,346 kWh of electricity — more than 16 houses typically use over an entire year.  On normal school days almost all the power is used by the school, whereas at weekends and during the holidays surplus electricity is exported into the grid. We exported an average of 14% from March to June, but in July and August we exported 27%.

Overall, we saved more than 30 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent from going into the atmosphere — like plucking 245 vehicles from the road or planting over 1,000 trees. The school has saved more than £3,200 in electricity costs since the beginning of March, funds that we know they’ll put to good use in these times of budget cuts.

But we need your help.  The government’s Feed In Tariff (FIT), which is crucial to making our project work financially, is under threat for new projects from January 2016 (https://econsultation.decc.gov.uk/office-for-renewable-energy-deployment-ored/fit-review-2015).  DECC has proposed an 87% cut, from an expected 12.47p per unit for the smallest installations down to 1.63p per unit.

The solar industry has been a success story, with 670,000 solar homes in the UK already, and it is reported that 80% of the British public support solar.  Will you contact your MP and let them know that you support (and/or have invested in) our community energy project and want there to be more of them?

Key points you may wish to make are:

  • The DECC proposals will decimate the solar industry just at the time when it is close to being independent.  The Solar Trade Association had already proposed a strategy to be subsidy-free by 2020, at a cost of only £1.69 per year to household bills.
  • The UK’s renewable energy industry is a source of sustainable jobs: 34,000 jobs across the country in mostly small and medium sized businesses are now at risk.
  • Climate change makes it urgent for us to transition away from fossil fuels as soon as possible: the DECC proposals will make this much harder.
  • Community energy projects like ours give people a direct stake in the transition to a low-carbon economy, but similar new schemes still need some FIT support to be viable.

You can also sign a petition to Parliament on https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/106791 (already with over 15,000 signatures) and/or this petition https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-the-uk-government-killing-off-the-uk-solar-industry (with over 29,000 signatures).  You can find out more about the issues on http://www.ashden.org/blog/proposed-feed-tariff-cuts-what-will-happen-uk-renewable-energy-industry .

In other HKD Energy news, at Downlands seagull guano is affecting the top rows of panels on the Sports Centre roof (the others seem fine) and we’re getting some spinning deterrents installed soon along with an extra clean of the panels.  August’s heavy rains have actually been quite helpful in cleaning most of the panels for us!  We commissioned an independent engineer’s report on the problem with one of the panels that was dislodged from the Sports Centre roof, and this has now been received.  It is reassuring that they found that the additional measures to secure the panels mean that the system is secure, and have made a number of recommendations to the installers for additional steps to make the installation the best it can be.  We are now asking the installers to implement these measures without delay.

Thanks to all of you for your interest and continuing support of HKD Energy.

Chris Handel, Chair                 John Willis, Secretary
Juliet Merrifield, Treasurer       Darren Berman, Director
Bec Hanley, Director

HKD Energy  (www.hkdenergy.org.uk)
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