As you can see in the video above, the town of Wadebridge in Cornwall wants to be the first UK town to go completely renewable. The short-term target is to be 30% renewable-energy-powered by 2015, relying especially on solar. “They want to stop relying on utilities and make significant cash contributions to local community projects through generating their own electricity,” according to the YouTube page for the video above.
The Mayor is fully behind the community group that has sprung up to make this happen. And, this month, the community has started installing its first solar panels. Over 100 homes are signed up to get solar. “Half of these are thinking of investing themselves, but the other half will benefit from a scheme run by Solarcentury and Triodos Bank,” the Cornish Guardian writes. “WREN is also planning to make solar panels available to those on lower incomes in order to reduce worries about fuel bills.”
And, beyond houses, WREN wants to get solar systems of up to 50-kW on schools and on industrial and agricultural roofs.
WREN is for Wadebridge
“I would urge anyone to at least make the first step and contact WREN. Its independence from commercial companies is reassuring when you are nervous of those who give you the ‘hard sell’,” Bruce Hawkey, the first to get a solar power system from WREN says. “I applaud what WREN is trying to do for Wadebridge. We all know we have to do more to control energy use. The level of interest was evident at the first public meeting in the town hall and it has been active in the follow-up. I wish WREN success.”
WREN is looking to help the town capitalize on the benefits of local, renewable energy generation. And, following that, is hoping to supply an effective model for deploying more solar power that many more towns and cities will use/implement.
WREN Gets Chris Huhne’s Ears
Chris Huhne, the UK’s Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, has already met with WREN. “The Secretary of State was very interested in the fact that a community the size of ours can make real inroads into its energy needs, and co-operate to bring sustainable prosperity at a time when many other forms of income are becoming more uncertain,” WREN member Stephen Frankel said.
The Threat WREN and Solar Power across the UK are Facing
With a relatively new, conservative government in charge in the UK, a generous feed-in tariff program critical to a big solar boom in the UK and to WREN’s mission has been put under threat. It is a long story, but despite the government’s previously confirmed commitment to this program, the new government is looking to weaken it. Here’s more on how that is affecting WREN from Frankel:
We have just installed our first ten solar systems, the first of what we believe will be well over a hundred in the town. The response has been overwhelming now that people see solar actually starting to go in. Our motivation is to become more self-sufficient due to the rising price of fossil fuel and our concern for our environment. Our town has great irradiance levels so we knew we had an opportunity with solar to generate a local, low carbon income stream, and be a model for the rest of the UK. Now the Feed-in tariff is here, we could turn that dream into a reality with the finance generated. However we do need to use as much space as possible to meet our needs, the Governments proposals to limit the Feed-in tariff to 50kWp means we can’t go ahead with our larger projects which would bring much needed income into our community fund.
WREN and Sustainable, Resilient Communities
Here’s more from Frankel and others on sustainable communities, community resiliency, and renewable energy:
Beyond Solar, WREN is also looking into tidal energy, biomass, and renewable-energy-powered electric transport.
Here’s one more video to leave you with, an edited video of WREN’s launch in January:
For more on how to support solar power in the UK, visit We Support Solar.
- UK Solar Market to Increase 5x This Year and 30x by 2015?
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Images via WREN
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