Britain’s first shared solar park to be built in Devon

Britain’s first shared solar park is to be built in Devon at Derril Water Solar Park, marking a new chapter in the green energy ownership movement.

Ripple Energy has announced that Derril Water Solar Park will become Britain’s first shared solar park. The project, developed by renewable energy company RES, will provide an alternative way solar parks can be owned and run in Britain.

The announcement comes as RES, which developed the project, enters an agreement to sell its Derril Water Solar Park to a Ripple-managed co-operative. The shared ownership model offers an affordable and simple way for households to act on climate change and shrink their carbon footprint, with the chance to buy and part-own the solar park in conjunction with thousands of other people.

From tomorrow (Tuesday 18 April), households across Britain will be able to buy and own part of the pioneering project at Derril Water Solar Park, located approximately 1.2km away from the village of Pyworthy, Devon.

The Solar Park will be capable of producing up to 42MW, potentially generating sufficient clean energy for up to 14,000 homes across Devon and Britain. On average, it is estimated that Derril Water will generate enough clean electricity to meet a home’s annual needs every 37 minutes, generating enough green electricity to save around 19,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.

Ripple is ring-fencing 10 per cent of the ownership of Derril Water Solar Park exclusively for those in the surrounding area and is urging interested local households and businesses to come forward. Qualifying individuals in the local area will be given two weeks of exclusive access to buy shares from the ring-fenced portion of the project.

The co-operative will also create a Community Benefit Fund which will provide £1,000/MW annually – expected to be worth up to £42,000 per year towards good causes in the local community. Working closely with the local community, Ripple and the co-op will determine how best this fund can be used. RES has committed £15,000 towards the warm hub project at the local village hall and will match funds raised locally in support of the project.

Derril Water Solar Park Map Inline

Image credit: Ripple

The remaining 90 per cent of the people-powered solar park will be open to people across Britain. Owners will see savings applied to their electricity bill, based on how much electricity their share of the solar park generates. By co-owning Derril Water Solar Park, members will be able to power their homes with local green energy and slash their energy bills, whilst also potentially reducing their carbon footprint.

Ripple has already proved its shared-ownership model with two consumer-owned wind farms in Wales and Scotland (the UK’s first and the UK’s largest of its kind). This will be Ripple’s third and most ambitious project to date and is an important milestone in its mission to make green energy ownership accessible to everyone.

RES will continue its involvement in the Derril Water project, undertaking the construction and providing operational services once the solar park starts generating clean energy.

Sarah Merrick, founder and CEO of Ripple Energy, said: “By offering consumer ownership, Derril Water Solar Park will become a completely different kind of solar park, one owned by the people it supplies low cost green power to.

“We want Derril Water to become a blueprint for consumer-owned solar parks around the world. We want to create a wave of green energy ownership that enables people to make a real climate impact, as well as stabilising their energy bills.

“People from all corners of Britain will be able to co-own Derril Water Solar Park and we hope as many as possible will become part of this pioneering project.”

Lucy Whitford, managing director at RES (UK&I), said: “Bringing Ripple on board at Derril Water offers a new way for consumers to share in the benefits of renewable energy and play a part in fighting climate change. The ability for local households and businesses to get involved connects the community directly with the project. Ripple’s model at Derril Water provides a direct way for consumers to lower their energy costs at such a critical time.”

Derril Water Solar Park

Image credit: Ripple

The solar park is also expected to yield benefits in local biodiversity, with improved habitat creation around its renewable energy projects central to Ripple’s approach. RES has specifically designed Derril Water to ensure the solar park delivers a net biodiversity gain and ecological improvements across the site.

The site is currently predominantly arable habitats (e.g. cattle-grazed improved grassland and grass leys), which are considered to be of low ecological value. Through plans created by RES, these areas will be transformed with the creation of new habitats and planting species-rich grassland, native trees and hedgerows around the site.

Additionally, bird and bat boxes, hedgehog houses, dormouse boxes, bee banks and invertebrate hotels will be built to provide more habitat creation of key insects and pollinators, which will increase the flora and fauna as a result of the development. It is anticipated that the number of habitat units will be increased by 90 per cent and there will be an increase of 30 per cent of existing hedgerows.

RES has designed Derril Water to be dual-purpose, enabling solar and agriculture to co-exist. Less than 4 per cent of the land will be physically occupied by the arrays and infrastructure, allowing agriculture in the form of sheep grazing to continue on over 96 per cent of the site during operation.

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