Wey Valley Solar is a community owned energy co-operative set up by local people mainly from the towns of Guildford and Godalming in Surrey. The Co-op installs community funded solar panel systems on schools and other community organisations free of charge, provides energy efficiency support to its member schools and works with schools and local community groups to maximise the environmental, educational and community impact of the solar installations. We seek to assist schools in their sustainability and educational work and to engage the local community.
As a social enterprise, Wey Valley Solar is dedicated to supporting its member organisations rather than making profits for shareholders. Our directors work for free to support our environmental and social mission. Our profits go back to our school and church members. It’s a compelling and ethical alternative to the prevailing commercial rent-a-roof or leasing model. It gives schools access to renewable energy sources and helps them cut their energy costs with no up-front cost by installing solar panels.
Wey Valley Solar started in 2011 with 238 kW of solar panels on the roofs of six state secondary schools in Surrey. Since then we have completed further solar installations on four more schools as well as increasing the generation capacity on some of our founder schools. In June 2020, we installed panels on St Paul’s Church, Addlestone. We now have generation capacity of just over 600kW over eleven sites (ten schools and one church). We have also re-lit two schools with low energy lighting, cutting energy costs and carbon and improving lighting quality.
Wey Valley Solar is a small, local, co-op but part of a bigger family. Our sister co-operative Schools Energy has installed solar panels in over 100 schools up and down the country and, most recently, on the cloisters of Salisbury Cathedral. Both co-ops are underpinned administratively by Energy4All which provides fundraising, accounting and project management support for 30 local energy co-operatives from the Scottish Highlands to the New Forest. To date Energy4All and its co-operatives have raised over £82 million to fund community energy projects. In 2018 it was given a special award by Community Energy England for its outstanding contribution and has won an Ashden Award for climate solution innovation. Mike Smyth, the chair of Wey Valley Solar, is also the chair of Schools Energy Co-operative and Energy4All.