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Green energy boost for Dorset

A scheme to increase the supply of renewable energy to local people in Bridport, Dorset has taken a big step forward with the award of a £20,000 feasibility grant.  The funding was awarded by the South West Energy Hub in partnership with Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and will be used to investigate the development of solar photo-voltaic (PV) arrays.

The project builds on the success of an initiative launched in January by Dorset Community Energy which aims to supply up to 60 Bridport homes with locally generated renewable energy from a wind turbine.  Offering green energy at just 9.5p/kWh, the Energy Local Bridport scheme has been heavily oversubscribed and still has 40 householders on the waiting list.

To meet this local demand, Dorset Community Energy is now looking at building two ground-mounted solar photo-voltaic (PV) arrays to supply sustainable electricity at the same unit cost as the wind turbine. The installation will be funded by a community share offer, meaning that if the project goes ahead, local people will be able to benefit as investors as well as consumers.

Pete West, a director of Dorset Community Energy said: “We have been working very hard in partnership with Energy Local CIC and Octopus Energy to develop this opportunity for local people to directly benefit from lower cost renewable electricity. There are several examples in Wales, but Bridport will be the first town in England to develop a local renewable energy supply to householders through the existing electricity grid. It’s great news that we have been awarded this feasibility grant which will enable us to develop the next phase of the project and allow more householders to participate.”

Lorna Carver, Director at Dorset LEP said: “Delivering clean growth within a low carbon economy is a key priority for Dorset. This is a fantastic example of how green technology can be delivered at community level – not only helping to protect the environment but also providing an economic benefit to local people. One of the great things about this scheme is its potential to be replicated in other parts of the county. We look forward to seeing the outcomes of the feasibility study.”

The feasibility grant was provided by the Rural Community Energy Fund, a government scheme administered by the South West Energy Hub in partnership with Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership. The funding will allow Dorset Community Energy to assess the viability of the proposed solar (PV) arrays including working out suitable locations, technical modelling and further engagement with the local community.

Jon Rattenbury, Programme Manager for the South West Energy Hub, said: “We are really pleased to be able to support Dorset Community Energy through this grant award and look forward to working together as the scheme progresses. It’s fantastic to see what can be achieved by getting the community on board and I hope it will inspire other local groups to come forward with their own projects.”

The South West Energy Hub is still accepting applications for feasibility grants from the Rural Community Energy Fund. See our Community Energy page for the current round deadline.