Oxfordshire to host the UK's largest community-owned rooftop solar
The project will be fully funded by the Low Carbon Hub – an Oxfordshire-wide social enterprise – and will generate green electricity for Prodrive, deliver an annual financial benefit of approximately £20,000 to low carbon community projects in the region, and provide a fair return to the Hub’s investors.
David Richards, chairman of Prodrive, said: “Renewable energy is vital for all our futures. Our new headquarters by the M40 has a large south facing roof and it made absolute sense to use it to generate clean electricity for us and to help fund similar renewable energy projects in our local community.”
Employing more than 500 staff across sites in Banbury and Milton Keynes, Prodrive is best known for its numerous motorsport successes which include Formula One, The World Rally Championship, Touring Car Titles and the Le Mans 24 hour race. In recent years however Prodrive has diversified and is now equally well known for its work on advanced technology projects in a wide range of sectors, including renewable energy.
The project will generate 636kW of renewable electricity when operational, the equivalent of providing electricity for more than 150 homes, which will be used to help power Prodrive’s headquarters. Surplus income from the project will fund community energy projects, such as insulating homes to make them more energy efficient, and providing Solar PV for schools where the projects would not otherwise be financially viable.
The Prodrive-Hub project follows on from the Norbar Torque Tools community Solar PV project earlier this year. When completed, it is likely to be the largest community owned rooftop Solar PV installation in the country.
Dr Barbara Hammond, CEO of the Low Carbon Hub said: “It’s great to partner with forward-thinking businesses like Prodrive. If all the tenants in the Central One Business Park were to follow Prodrive’s lead on community energy partnerships, we could generate enough green energy to power the equivalent of 700 households. The social, economic and environmental impact for Oxfordshire would be significant.”
Changes to the Government’s Feed in Tariff pre-accreditation rules for renewable energy projects meant that the Low Carbon Hub and Prodrive had to get all the pre-agreements, including from the local electricity network operator – Western Power – in place by the end of September; a process that can take a couple of months.
Tim Crisp, the Hub’s project manager, said: “Western Power were fantastic in confirming capacity on their networks far more quickly than they were obliged to. They really seemed to understand how important this project was to us and responded to this urgency. The project couldn’t have gone ahead without them.”
It will become more common for businesses to supply their own energy by 2020, according to recent research. A survey by Vlerick Business School’s Energy Centre, in partnership with KPMG, found more than a third of energy executives in Europe believe it will be a common occurrence for customers to go off grid by 2020 .
Image courtesy of Prodrive.