‘Solar farm village’ could help power York

THE rooftops across a Yorkshire city could become a community owned solar farm under ambitious plans to create a viable renewable energy scheme.

A solar farm
A solar farm

York Community Energy, a volunteer-run organisation which aims to establish community-controlled renewable energy generation in the city, is looking for buildings with suitable rooftops to be involved in the first wave of solar installations.

It is targeting community owned buildings such as village halls or schools to start the project, which could then be expanded to take in numerous properties.

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Similar schemes have been set up elsewhere, notably in Edinburgh, and a half day conference is now being planned for York to launch the project.

The Powering The City conference will hear from successful renewable energy schemes across the country - including wind, solar and hydropower - and will discuss what can be done in York.

YCE chair Richard Lane said: “We know that we need to act fast to prevent dangerous climate change. We need to get off fossil fuels as quickly as possible, and we want as many people as possible to benefit from this.

“Community-owned generation is a revolution - we can collectively take responsibility for the power we use, clean it up, and benefit from it financially.

“York - like most places in the UK - has significant potential for both solar and wind generation. If an urban solar farm is feasible as far north as Edinburgh it’s feasible here.”

The event will feature presentations from Sheffield Solar, Pennine Community Power and the Whitby Esk Energy hydropower scheme. There will also be a session on how the UK as a whole can transfer to clean energy.

YCE member Anthony Day, a locally based international conference speaker on sustainability, said solar energy will be an essential part of the energy mix for the future.

“It’s clean, it’s cheap and it’s secure because it’s home-grown energy, not imported from thousands of miles away like oil, coal or gas.

“And advances in battery storage mean we can benefit from solar power when the sun isn’t shining.”

The conference runs from 1pm to 5.30pm on Saturday, September 12, at the Friends Meeting House on Friargate, York. It is free to attend and open to everyone but attendees are asked to book online via the YCE website at http://yorkcommunityenergy.org.uk/conference.

It comes as the Government faced criticism from the Federation of Master Builders, which said a clear vision is needed for what will replace the Green Deal following an announcement that the scheme has effectively been scrapped.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “The Government’s announcement that it will provide no further funding to the Green Deal Finance Company and will also stop any future funding of the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund is the final nail in the Green Deal’s coffin.”