Whether Wey Valley Solar has initiated contact or whether we have been approached by the school, community organisation or local council, the approach is always the same. Our contractors will do a desktop assessment to establish if, and where, solar installation is possible and to give an indication of likely solar capacity and power generation. With this, we can create a feasibility study. This will indicate the potential savings that the school can make.
Our ethos is one of absolute transparency so we will run through the study with all the parties e.g. bursar, head or governors in the case of a school. If the community organisation agrees to go ahead in principle then our contractors, JoJu, will conduct a thorough structural and electrical survey to ensure the panels can be installed safely and efficiently. This entire process is free to the community organisation.
Post-survey, the feasibility study can be adjusted to take into account any structural issues and to finalise anticipated energy generation projections. Subject to the community organisation’s final approval, a simple agreement will be generated. The timing of the subsequent works will be dependent on the size and complexity of the installation and individual factors like school term dates. We will also need to build in the time needed for fundraising and whether, again dependent on the size of the installation, a number of organisations will need to be grouped together to make the fundraising of sufficient size. This is what happened with Phase 1 of Wey Valley Solar when six schools were included in one fundraising. Since then there has been a second round of investment to raise funds for our other five schools and church.
External fundraising – a share issue, effectively – is how Wey Valley Solar and other community energy co-operatives raise capital to enable the renewable energy installation to be free for the local organisation. Wey Valley Solar and Energy4All will draw up a prospectus and invite existing investors, the community organisation itself and in a school’s case, parents & grandparents to apply for priority shares. Later on, others interested in supporting community energy, particularly investors in other Energy4All co-operatives, such as Schools Energy, will be invited to participate.
Over Wey Valley Solar’s first 10 years, our combined school solar arrays have generated over 3,800 megawatt hours of clean, renewable, energy; hugely reducing the schools’ reliance on fossil fuels and saving some 1,900 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere.
Combined electricity cost savings for all the schools are currently in the region of £45,000 per annum. On top of that, the total profit share returned to schools since we started trading, including the 2021 payment, totals an estimated £60,000.