World’s Largest Community Solar Farm Moves Forward

Westmill Solar Park Community

Westmill Solar Park Community

Welcome guest poster, Mathias Aarre Maehlum,  with part 2 of his recent community solar garden post:

The idea of community-owned solar farms has been around for quite some time. Homeowners who aren’t eligible for solar panels because they don’t own their own roof or live in an apartment building, still have the chance to invest in community-owned solar.

The world’s largest community solar farm, and UK`s first, has now been launched in Oxford, England. Westmill Solar Cooperative has bought out a 5MW solar farm and intends to make it community-owned.

Just one and a half months after the project was announced, more than 1650 investors signed up, which lead to funds close to £6 million. Phillip Wolfe, Westmill’s executive, stated the following about the new development:

“Solar power will become the world’s greatest energy source in our lifetime; heralding a new era of sustainable and ‘democratic’ energy supply. As the success of Westmill shows, solar energy enables ordinary people to produce clean power, not only on their roof tops, but also at utility scale.”

The 1650 investors will share the profits that are made by selling the clean electricity generated by the solar farm. Estimations suggest an internal rate of return (ERR) of 9 – 11% over the length of the project (24 years).

The new community solar farm is exciting news for those who look to “go solar”, but lack a home suited for ownership. Centralizing solar systems also bring several other interesting benefits to the table including:

  • The solar farm can be placed outside urban areas, limiting the aesthetic concerns of solar power.
  • More effective installation and maintenance of system components.
  • Location can be carefully picked to be free of trees and other obstructions that cause shading issues.

The solar farm produced more than 4,900 MWh of electricity last year – the equivalent to the electricity consumption of about 1,500 UK households. Read more about community solar projects, which solar panel types are the best, and all other things solar at Energy Informative.

Editor’s Note:  Be sure to read Mathias’ solar garden community post for more information about solar community initiatives.

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