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 Chester Solar PV specialist, Genfit Ltd. The occasion was marked at Neston Recreation Centre by visits from Ellesmere Port and Neston MP, Justin Madders and CWAC councillor and leader of the Council Louise Gittins, who enthused about the projects and how they contribute to sustainable energy provision.
Justin Madders MP said ‘It’s great to be here in Neston where what you are doing is going to make a big difference to the carbon footprint of the facility but as you say it’s something that we are not going to be able to do that much more of in the future and when you look at what’s available across the whole of the public sector, never mind the private sector, there are loads of opportunities for much more sustainable ways of keeping these facilities going. It’s a real disappointment that we have seen over recent years the support for Feed-in tariffs go particularly at a time when the rhetoric from the government has been much more about the climate emergency. I think really it’s time for them to put their money where their mouth is and that means actually sustainable long term investment across the board in terms of renewable energies and we have got to look at every aspect of life to do that because if we don’t it will soon become far too late and we will very much regret our course of action.’
Louise Gittins, leader of the council said ‘Back in May we declared a climate emergency. For the last nine months we have been looking at what we need to do to reduce our carbon footprint. As a borough we are actually the fourth most polluting in the country, so we face significant challenges there, and we have set ourselves some quite ambitious targets. By 2030 as a council we want to be carbon neutral, and then by 2045 as a borough. So, we have actually come down slightly from the government’s target of 2050. Any contribution is really going to make a difference and certainly the work you are doing here around the community energy is going to have a significant impact I think across the borough. We can look at how we work with other community organisations to help them reduce their carbon footprint. It’s about everybody playing their part to work together and get to carbon zero by 2045.’
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. The saving in CO2 over the life of the project is estimated to be 560 tonnes. All the electricity can be used by the sports centres, who purchase the electricity from CCEL under a power purchase agreement. This results in savings for the centre, and income for CCEL, which together with the feed in tarrif subsidy from the Government allow CCEL to pay back our investors and set aside any surpluses for community benefit. Unfortunately the subsidy was phased out last year and CCEL is currently looking at options for future projects.
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 – www.chestercommunityenergy.org.uk.