The future is looking good for what is expected to be the UK’s largest community-owned solar farm, after it recently secured vital funding.
Following recent news of a smaller scale innitiative in the old Roman city of Bath, Ray Valley Solar in Oxford has loftier ambitions and will generate enough electricity to power 6,000 homes. The facility will be operated by Low Carbon Hub, a social enterprise that empowers communities to take control of their energy. Their ambition is for the whole of Oxfordshire to be powered by an interconnected series of smart micro-grids centred around multiple small scale, community controlled renewable energy schemes. There are currently 34 of these within Low Carbon Hub's membership in Oxfordshire.
It's hoped that the project’s financing will provide a model for others to follow. Ray Valley's funding was obtained through a community share offer, which raised £4.5m. Lending from Oxford city council, a grant from Local Energy Oxfordshire, and a loan from Triodos UK helped get the project over the line.
Dr Barbara Hammond, CEO at Low Carbon Hub, said: “We want to make Oxfordshire an example for the world. To show how the right investment, used in the right way, can help meet our energy needs in a way that’s good for people, and good for the planet.”