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
Our community solar farm at Gawcott Fields Farm, between Buckingham and Gawcott, has been generating electricity and income from the sun since June 2016. The 4.17 megawatt solar array is made up of over 16,000 solar panels and is generating over 4 million kWh of renewable electricity each year. That’s equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of around 1,000 homes! The operation of the solar farm is being managed by Communities for Renewables CIC.
Community ownership and benefits
The solar farm is owned by Gawcott Fields Community Solar Project, a professionally managed community interest company (CIC) that is governed by local volunteer directors and run for the benefit of the local community.
The solar farm was funded by a community bond offer which raised £415,000 in 2017 and has paid annual interest at 6% each year since. The rest of the capital came from long-term loans from Santander Bank and Social and Sustainable Capital.
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) is being used to provide funding for community organisations and projects in the local area. The project is expected to 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) and a total of around £2 million over the 30 year life of the project.
You can read our annual reports in the news section to see how the surplus has been used in the local community so far, and see our current initiatives detailed here. If you have any suggestions for how local community organisations and projects could benefit, please get in touch.