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About us

Buckingham and the surrounding parishes spend almost £20 million per year on energy, almost all of which leaves the local economy. The Gawcott Fields community solar project is a step towards a future of energy being generated locally from renewable sources, and the value of our energy economy being retained locally.

The Gawcott Fields community solar farm

A new community solar farm has been built at Gawcott Fields Farm, between Buckingham and Gawcott. The 4.17 megawatt solar array is made up of over 16,000 solar panels and is expected to generate over 4 million kWh of renewable electricity each year. That’s equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of around 1,000 homes!

Construction was completed on schedule by June 29th 2016 and the solar farm is now exporting low carbon electricity to the local grid. The operation of the solar farm is being managed by experienced contractors – Communities for Renewables CIC and Pfalzsolar.

Community ownership and benefits

The solar farm is owned by Gawcott Fields Community Solar Project, a professionally managed community interest company (CIC) that will be run for the benefit of the local community.

The solar farm is earning income from the sale of electricity and a Feed-in Tariff. Surplus income generated by the Community Solar Farm (after operating and finance costs) will be used to provide funding for community organisations and projects in the local area. The project will generate around £20,000 per year for the first 15 years rising to £50,000 per year for years 16–20 (after the bank loan has been paid off) – a total of around £2 million over the 30 year life of the project.

We are looking to grow the board of Directors and talk to local people and organisations about how the surplus income can best be managed and used to meet local needs. If you would be interested in getting involved in the governance of the CIC or to discuss opportunities for how local community organisations and projects could benefit, please get in touch.

 

Get involved

The community bond offer was launched in June 2016 as an opportunity for people and organisations from the local and wider community to invest in the community solar farm and receive annual interest of 6%, and their capital back over 20 years. The bond offer closed on 30th April 2017 having raised £414,800, including £71,250 in match funding from local investors in the MK and HP postcodes. All investors should have received an email from Ethex regarding their bonds.

The Community Surplus generated is expected to be around £20,000 per year. For an initial period of 3 years, half the surplus is being used to fund the ‘Bee Warm’ program in the local area to help people struggling with their energy bills. This program is being run by Buckingham and Winslow Citizens Advice in collaboration with the Milton Keynes-based energy charity, the National Energy Foundation.

The other half of the surplus will be used to support a fund to provide grants to local community organisations. The grant fund is managed by local charity Heart of Bucks and will have a defined focus each year. The first year’s focus was sports, aiming to promote health and wellbeing of the local community. £15,000 has been awarded in grants to local sports initiatives. Eight initiatives were supported in two rounds of grant funding and are are expected to benefit over 2,000 local people. For more details see our news.

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