Chester Community Energy Ltd (CCEL) has successfully commissioned two more solar PV installations
at Christleton and Neston Sports Centres. Both projects are the result of partnerships with CWAC,
Brio Leisure and local electrical contractor, Genfit Ltd. The occasion was marked at Christleton Sports
Centre by visits from Chester MP, Chris Matheson and CWAC councillors Richard Beacham and Matt
Bryan, who all enthused about the projects and how they contribute to sustainable energy provision.
Others present were Mark Swaffield of Brio Leisure, Dave Houston and Melanie Grant of Genfit Ltd
and Graham Booth, Matt Clegg and Joanne Sparke of CCEL.
Chris Matheson MP, an advocate of community based enterprises, said “I am concerned that we are
not making nearly enough progress in terms of sustainability and responses to the global climate
crises, but any response that we can achieve is better than no response and often it will be the local
solutions such as this solar power project that will make a difference”.
Matt Bryan, who leads CWAC’s climate emergency taskforce, was also upbeat about collaborating
with the voluntary sector. He said “Your scheme has probably been the best that we have seen in
Cheshire. You have managed to roll out three now, we’ve had Northgate, here and in Neston, which
was completed yesterday. So what we want to do is build on your experience of actually delivering
the schemes, because at the moment the process is quite piecemeal and there are always problems
with individual sites. What we want to do is take your expertise and knowledge and create some
kind of plan and guide for other people in groups from different areas”.
Graham Booth speaking on behalf of Stephen Savory, who project managed the schemes for CCEL
said “The successful installation of the schemes was the culmination of 12 months of preparation,
planning and fund raising work carried out mainly by volunteers at minimal cost. I would like to
thank all of our partners who have been brilliant from the start, with a special mention for Genfit Ltd
who have installed both projects within 9 working days and our elected representatives who
attended today and continue to support our work”.
Both projects have installed capacity of 59.9 kilowatts peak (kWp) and are predicted to generate
48,000 kilowatt hours of electricity in the first year, with a one percent annual decrease in output
over the 25 year life of the solar panels. The saving in CO2 over the life of the project is estimated to
be 560 tonnes based on the present electricity generating mix. The solar panels work by transferring
some of the energy in light to electrical energy and operate completely pollution free. They require
only one inspection per year just to check the system over but as there are no moving parts there is
no ongoing maintenance. All the electricity can be used by the sports centres, who purchase the
electricity from CCEL under a power purchase agreement. This saves the centres significant costs as
the price per unit is much lower than the grid price paid to their electricity supplier. The income
from the centres, plus a small feed in tariff subsidy, provides an income for CCEL of approx. £7,000
per year for each project to CCEL.
Any surplus from the business is used by CCEL to invest in future projects and provide a community
benefit fund to local small voluntary groups and charities. CCEL has awarded grants totalling £6,000
in the last 2 years to community based organisations to reduce their energy use and costs. It is also
introducing a scheme to replace old lighting in public buildings with LED lighting which saves at least
50% on power. The scheme provides the full cost of the new lighting which is then paid back over
several years from the savings in electricity use. Further information is available on the CCEL website
Chester Community Energy Ltd (CCEL) has again provided grants to local community groups from revenues received from generating electricity from sunshine. Last year’s sunshine has produced power from solar panels on the Northgate Arena, the revenues of which have provided three thousand pounds of funding to local charities/community groups to reduce energy use in their buildings. Six applications were received and three were chosen to attend an open interview session to enable the difficult task of selecting the successful applicant(s). The panel of three decided that the fund should be split between Stanney Grange Community Centre and the Grozone Community Garden in Northwich. Stanney Grange was awarded £1,900 to install LED lighting in their community centre and Grozone received £1,100 towards an off-grid solar PV power supply. The third short-listed applicant was The Hospice of the Good Shepherd who was offered consultancy services for LED lighting, provided by CCEL volunteers.
The awarding of the fund was carried out by a panel of three members of CCEL with the help of Cheshire West Voluntary Action. The successful applicants were delighted to be helped by the new fund which will be awarded annually. The amount of funding in the future will depend on the fittle British weather but it is hoped that the present level of funding will be maintained. Graham Booth, a director of CCEL, said “We have now commissioned two more solar PV projects at Christleton and Neston and this will enable us to continue with our community benefit fund into the foreseeable future. There are so many local voluntary groups providing excellent support to their communities and we would love to offer more help. Even though government financial support and incentives for renewable energy are not readily available any more, CCEL are working hard to grow the business. We have just introduced a scheme to install modern lighting systems in community buildings in and around Chester which could provide modest amounts of additional income for us”.
CCEL is a community benefit society that is funded by its members who purchase shares in the society. They receive annual interest, which is presently set at 4% and cash in their shares at face value after three and before fifteen years. All surplus money from the projects are used to invest in the business and provide grants to local community groups. The society is administered solely by volunteers and welcomes new volunteers with the necessary skills into the business.
For more information search on www.chestercommunityenergy.org.uk or contact Graham on 077445989736.
Congratulations to the receivers of the Community benefit fund for 2020. (Applications received in 2019).
- Stanney Grange Community Centre were awarded £1900 to fund LED lighting installation;
- Grozone were awarded £1100 to assist them with their off-grid electricity project;
Keep up the good work and make the change happen!!!
Our scheme is no longer accepting applications for the £3000 fund for 2019. By the 23rd of January we will be in touch with the shortlisted applicants with notes and guidance for the outcome of their applications and the next steps.
Many thanks to all our new supporters and members – we have successfully reached our target of raising funds for two new solar PV systems and a LED system. Our 2019 Share Offer is now CLOSED. We will keep all our members updated on progress early in the New Year. Merry Christmas!
Community Benefit Fund 2019
£3,000 fund now open for applications
The community benefit fund is now open for applications from local community groups and charities. Guidance notes and application forms will be sent out by email to qualifying organisations by Cheshire West Voluntary Action (CWVA). If your group is not registered with the CWVA and you would like to apply you can contact them on 01244 401272 or email email@example.com. Application forms have to be returned by noon on Friday 20th December 2019. Short-listed applicants will be invited for an open interview on Thursday 23 January 2020.
Chester Community Energy
T. 07445 989736