Not just a project but an entire rural community energy movement….
Forest Row, a village on the edge of The Ashdown Forest, is a centre for innovation and change. It boasts thriving businesses, biodynamic agriculture, alternative education, arts and natural medicine. With its dynamic community that embraces 'the new' it is unsurprising that the village now wants to move forward with community generated renewable energy.
Forest Row Energy Co-op has a vision to power the community of Forest Row and the surrounding area with locally produced renewable energy that costs less to the community and our environment. We want a new model of energy production that is all about creating a sustainable future, about empowering our community to meet its energy needs rather than relying on volatile energy markets, fossil fuels and multinational providers.
This project is pivotal in making our vision happen. It's not just one project, it’s an entire renewable community energy movement in this rural corner of Sussex.
The ‘Forest Row Solar Power for the People’ project is about creating a model for community energy based on our partnership, as a local community energy co-operative, with the Parish Council, businesses and the wider community. This project will include:
A solar installation to power community services
The donation of free battery storage from Powervault
The establishment of a resource for community energy organisations to secure planning permission for solar installations on grade II listed buildings
Establishment of a ring fenced funding model for community energy
Raising funds to secure future local community energy projects
Community wide engagement and supporting local business
A solar installation and awareness display will be put in place on our community centre. It will be installed by a local company to support our local economy. The installation will power sustainable meals for local people that are prepared in the community kitchen, community services such as our local library and electric car charging. It will produce enough power for around 7,000 community meals or for 580 car charges each year at our electric car charging point.
We will put solar power at the heart of our community and raise awareness about community energy.
Powervault, an award-winning British company, has been inspired by all our hard work and dedication to make community energy happen and has kindly offered to donate free battery storage for the solar installation if we win this award. This is a donation of around £6,000 worth of top of the range kit. It will allow the energy generated from the solar panels to be stored and used directly, rather than being exported to the grid and then bought back at a higher price.
Battery storage alongside solar is the ultimate model of self-sufficiency in renewable energy. If we win, we will secure it, for free. Thank you Powervault!
This project emerged around two years when Forest Row Energy Co-op started making plans for an iconic community energy project that would create a model for further projects. When we found out that our prime location was a Grade II listed building we knew that we had a big hurdle to climb. Undeterred, we embarked on a lengthy planning application process that required a heritage statement, architectural drawings, collection of case studies, production of an environmental and community benefit business case, the design of an installation that would be invisible from the ground and much patience! We can now use this experience to help other groups.
We will develop a resource that helps other community energy projects secure planning permission for solar on Grade II listed buildings.
Along the way we have built a strong relationship with our Parish Council. The councillors have voted unanimously in support of our project and the Parish Council have funded and resourced the planning process. We have agreed with the Parish Council for the Feed-in Tariff, a government payment that is made for producing solar energy, to be used to fund future renewable energy projects in the community.
The project will generate funds for community energy to gather momentum in Forest Row and the surrounding area.
Alongside collecting votes for this award we have now opened the project to CROWD FUNDING. The funds raised will pay for the planning and preparation costs that have been part of the solar installation and allow us to make our next strides in creating a clean, green local energy revolution. Our plans include:
Providing free renewable energy assessments to local business to help them add value to their business and reduce local environmental impact.
Assisting local businesses to access grant funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Building an energy efficiency and renewable energy project resource bank on our website for local homeowners.
Helping people in fuel poverty in our community to access financial help for energy efficiency.
Mobilising bids for grant funding for renewable energy projects in the community.
Establishing legal documents for renewable energy community share option schemes.
Please donate to help us create positive change, sustainability and energy self-sufficiency in our community.
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