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Southill community power

The starting point

Southill Community Energy (SCE) is a community benefit society run by community members. Their aim is to empower local people to reduce their emissions.

They chose Solarcentury to build a solar farm on the Cornbury Estate, just outside Charlbury in Oxfordshire. Solarcentury are the EPC contractor – we designed and built the site, and will do the operation and maintenance of the installation for at least 2 years.

SCE was supported by local social enterprise Low Carbon Hub, who provided technical assistance as well as financial support for the project.

The solution

The land space available allowed for a solar farm to be built with a capacity of 4.5MWp - generating enough solar electricity to power the equivalent of 1,100 homes.

All of the electricity Southill solar farm generates is sold to a local energy supplier, and the earnings are fully reinvested into local projects. SCE expect to make an average of £30,000 each year for 25 years.

The ground topography, with extreme undulations, was the main challenge during construction requiring careful planning by our experienced team of engineers and project managers. Even with the challenges faced, Solarcentury finished the solar farm in just 7 weeks.

Environmental benefits

For SCE it was imperative that the solar project was integrated into the surrounding ecology. So we took measures to ensure this, including:

  • Hedgerow improvement works to provide food and shelter for farmland birds.
  • Wildflower seeds were planted to attract bees and other range of insects.
  • Sheep will graze on the wildflower meadow beneath the panels.
  • An apple orchard will be planted along one of the boundaries to provide fruits to the community.

Read more here.

The response

Tim Crisp, Director, Southill Community Energy, said “We hope that Southill Solar will be a beacon of excellence, demonstrating the positive power of community energy. Communities are coming together to find ways to deal with the big energy problems we’re facing as a country. We want to take control, establish a safe and sustainable energy supply, drive down energy prices and lower emissions to help fight climate change.”

Power and payback

System size: 5MWp

Number of solar panels: 17,160

Annual generation: 19,620 MWh

CO2 savings per year: 8,000 tonnes

Southill solar farm

Southill solar farm

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