Balcombe residents, who were thrust into the limelight last summer over anti-fracking protests, have created a new co-operative that will help tap solar energy to generate electricity.
The co-operative, dubbed REPOWER Balcombe, targets to raise 300,000 pounds initially through a community share offering for half a dozen solar arrays on roofs in the village that will meet 7.5 percent of its power needs. However, this figure is expected to increase to 100 percent in the long run.
The co-operative disclosed on Friday that it had entered into a lease agreement to install the first 19kw array on a cow shed roof in a nearby family-owned Grange farm. The family will in turn receive electricity discounted at the rate of 33 percent for the next 25 years.
It is also holding talks to obtain five more sites to install the solar panels this spring. Every project is estimated to give shareholders 5 percent return during its 20-year lifetime, with any profits going into the community’s trust fund.
The spokesman of REPOWER Balcombe, Joe Nixon said that the solar energy will provide an environmentally-friendly alternative to shale gas.
“We all need energy, but buying dirty fossil power from giant utilities is no longer the only option,” Mr Nixon told the Guardian.
“Advances in renewable technology mean that communities like ours can now generate the energy we need ourselves, locally, in a way that benefits us directly instead of big power companies – and helps the environment instead of harming it. This is win-win for Balcombe and for the planet.”
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