Frequently Asked Questions
We have prepared answers to likely questions people may have, but please get in touch if we haven't answered your own query.
- Why Wedmore?
- What is Micro generation?
- The power generated will be enough for 300 homes so how will that work?
- Why 1 mega watt?
- Will it damage the land?
- Is there any loss of productive farmland?
- How often does an investment opportunity like this appear on your doorstep?
- What’s the alternative?
- Why be a co-operative?
- Will the Co-operative have support from a third party?
- What is the role of Community Power Ltd?
- What is the job of the board?
- Can more solar arrays be added?
- How will we be able to see how the solar panels are performing?
- What is the main source of income from the panels?
Wedmore led the way in 1908 with the pioneering efforts of William Burrough who through investment enabled the village to enjoy the benefits of local electrical generation for the very first time. This was far in advance of surrounding villages and towns and long before the City of Wells had mains electricity – it was known as the WEDMORE ENTERPRISE - Wells Journal and Somerset Advertiser, March 25th 1909.
By 1911 the business had really taken off and the company structure needed to change – shares were taken up and it became a public company. By 1920 there was power in Theale and Blackford.
Today, over a hundred years later we have a ‘village answer’ to putting Wedmore back on the electrical map – with a community owned green energy system that we think would make WG Burrough proud.Top
What is Micro generation?
Microgeneration is the production of heat or power on a small scale when compared to the outputs of a typical fossil-fuelled power station.
Unlike these large power stations which are often located many of miles away from where the power is needed, micro generation systems use the power where it is made. This means they are much more efficient as transmission and distribution losses and costs are virtually eliminated.
Micro generation technologies are environmentally friendly. They do not deplete the earth’s natural resources and in most instances, certainly in the case of Solar PV do not release carbon into the atmosphere. (CO2 emissions are one of the main causes of global warming and climate change).Top
The power generated will be enough for 300 homes so how will that work?
Domestic solar PV installations vary but most produce between 2,000 and 4,000 units of electricity each year. Our system produces up to 1,000,000 units, so is the equivalent to putting solar PV systems on 300 houses on the Isle of Wedmore.
The electricity feeds into the local power grid, which means less is drawn from the National Grid. There might be occasions in high summer when power is exported through the sub-station in the village car park, but almost all the electricity will be used locally. Everyone nearby will be drawing power from our solar plant some of the time.Top
Why 1 mega watt?
We are working with the local 11kV power grid as that tends to be more efficient and better suited to community scale developments, but the local grid has limited capacity and will only accommodate 1 mega watt peak production (1mWp). This is not the ‘thin end of a wedge’ as there would be major cost involved in reinforcing the local power grid before any more significant power production is introduced. There is still scope to add plant on the Wells side of the village or directly into the parish sub-station if appropriate sites are identified.Top
Will it damage the land?
No. The project has a lifetime well in excess of 20 years and our finance model is based on a 27-year plus life, but – when necessary – the equipment can be completely removed as the system is totally demountable. Almost all of the components can be recycled and there will be no long-term damage to the land.Top
Is there any loss of productive farmland?
No – by planting new hedges we are creating two new paddocks and using them to produce electrical power. The system has been designed specifically to allow sheep to graze underneath, benefiting the farmers in terms of rent and combined usage. The solar panels are raised up from the grass on special frames and set at an angle, allowing plenty of grazing room for the sheep.Top
How often does an investment opportunity like this appear on your doorstep?
The slightly flippant answer is ‘about once every hundred years or so’ as that is the last time a power company went public in Wedmore. More helpfully we might add that community owned companies are becoming increasingly popular, but opportunities are limited and tend to have a geographical bias.Top
What’s the alternative?
Normally to invest in solar energy you would need to own your house, have a structurally sound shade free suitably oriented roof, sufficient funds to purchase the appropriate system and fund its installation. Not everyone has all of these.
With a community owned co-operative you can invest and make a difference by simply opting for the number of shares that fit your budget. That’s it - Simple
No survey - No hassle!Top
Why be a co-operative?
We wanted to give everybody in the local community the opportunity to have a stake in an initiative that will benefit the community and the wider environment. Co-operatives are businesses owned and run by and for their members, whether customers, employees or residents. As well as giving members an equal say and share of the profits, co-operatives act together to build a better world through co-operation. We are proud to number ourselves among almost 6,000 co-operatives in the UK owned by 13.5 million people.Top
Will the Co-operative have support from a third party?
We are being advised by Sharenergy, a not-for-profit organisation that helps communities find, build and own renewable energy generation. We are also members of Co-operatives UK, the national trade association that campaigns for co-operation and works to promote, develop and unite co-operative enterprises. Both these organisations can provide advice and information for our Board as our own Co-operative develops year on year.Top
What is the role of Community Power Ltd?
CPL is a project developer based in Wedmore. It identifies potential projects and then brings landowners, community groups and local authorities together to resolve legal and statutory arrangements, based on detailed designs worked out with the community. CPL helps the community set up the required funding arrangements and once all legal and statutory arrangements are in place, it then delivers the project under contract for the co-operative.Top
What is the job of the board?
The board will hold several meetings a year, including an annual general meeting. The board runs the co-operative on behalf of the members according to the rules. Members will be encouraged to participate in meetings.Top
Can more solar arrays be added?
Western Power Distribution told us that the local electricity transmission system would be at full capacity once our solar power plant was operational so we will not be able to export any additional power.Top
How will we be able to see how the solar panels are performing?
We aim to have a live tracking system linked to our website so anybody can see how much electricity the plant is generating.Top
What is the main source of income from the panels?
The Co-operative is paid by the electricity supply company Good Energy for each unit of energy we supply to the grid. A secondary income comes from the Feed-in Tariff introduced by the Government to encourage greater take-up of renewable energy systems. So we receive a ‘generation tariff’ for each unit of electricity we generate (FiT) and an ‘export tariff’ for each unit we sell to Good Energy.Top