After much hard work and with fantastic support and partnerships within our amazing community, Forest Row Energy Co-op are thrilled to have been announced today as one of the 'Judges Winners' in this year's M&S Community Energy Fund. The solar installation with battery storage at Forest Row’s Community Centre will now go ahead fully funded and the community energy movement in the area will take a big step forward.
Esmé Michelle Wild, Director of Funding and Projects at Forest Row Energy said ‘We are absolutely over the moon that the judges have recognised all our hard work. Winning this award means that we will now not only be able to move forward with this project but that we will be able to take the community energy movement in the region to the next level.
As part of the project we have the developed skills, partnerships and project management processes that will allow us to attract further funding and be ready to go on a whole range of other renewable energy projects in and around Forest Row. Today we are a big step closer to achieving our vision for local renewable energy – to power our community by clean, green renewable energy and become self-sufficient in our energy needs.’
This project has been in the making for around 2 years. Along the way Forest Row Energy Co-op have been successful in partnering with Forest Row Parish Council to gain planning permission for the solar installation on the Grade II listed community centre, engaging local business, inspiring Powervault to provide free battery storage worth £6,000 as part of the project and gaining the votes of over 1250 supporters in Forest Row and further afield as part of the M&S community energy competition.
The solar installation on the Forest Row Community Centre will power the preparation of sustainable meals for local people, community services such as the local library and free electric car charging. The installation will produce enough power for around 7,000 community meals or for 580 car charges each year at the electric car charging point.
The battery storage that will be donated by Powervault will mean that energy generated from the solar panels will be stored and used directly, rather than being exported to the grid and then bought back at a higher price.
The M&S judges said that the project was ‘One of the most innovative projects to feature in this year’s competition, Forest Row’s vision to power a community through local energy production and create a self-sufficient energy movement was extremely popular with the judges. As community energy initiatives continue to grow, the judges felt that Forest Row’s ambition to develop a resource that helps other community energy projects, beyond their own, was highly commendable and deserved to be recognised.’
We are now exited to be making plans to get the installation up and running in January 2018 and about making next steps to create positive change, sustainability and energy self-sufficiency in the community. A big thank you to everyone that has helped, supported and voted for this project.