It has been a busy few months. The recent surge in energy prices (and the demise of several UK energy suppliers) has dominated the news, as has COP-26. Alongside this, your co-ops have been busy making things happen. Read on for more news about:
15-year planning extension for Westmill Wind
The original Westmill wind farm planning application was made in 2005 for a 25-year project, at the end of which the turbines would be dismantled. At our annual meeting members indicated they would like the board to explore the potential to extend the life of the wind farm.
Last month, the planning authority informed Westmill that they had accepted our application to extend the planning life of the wind farm. We now have an additional 15 years that we can operate the turbines on the site. This decision was the result of hard work by Energy4All and our planning consultant.
The board will now refine the long-term financial plan for the site, and will consult with members as we progress.
Westmill Wind and Westmill Solar production and performance to date
In contrast to 2020, 2021 has seen record poor UK wind speeds - the lowest since 1962. This has adversely affected wind generation across the UK, and as a low wind site Westmill has been affected as well. By the end of October we had generated 6,901 MWh against a budget of 7,698 MWh.
Generation in 2021 has (unsurprisingly) been lower than 2020’s bumper figures but also below our historic average figures. This is due to less irradiation/sunshine rather than any major performance issues and we anticipate that the solar farm will still have generated around 5,000 MWh by the end of this year.
Supporting the Schools Energy Co-operative
Westmill Solar and Westmill Wind divide their cash funds across a number of banks. Both co-operatives have been looking at how they can do more with our cash resources in line with co-operative principles.
In September Westmill was approached by the Schools Energy Co-operative, an award-winning co-operative that has installed over 85 solar installations on roofs across the UK (mainly on schools, and also Salisbury Cathedral) with a total capacity of about 3.5MW.
The Schools Energy Co-operative is planning a new share offer in 2022. Westmill Solar and Wind joined a consortium of several co-operatives that came together to provide a loan to allow the Schools Energy Co-operative to move ahead with its programme while the share offer is being implemented.
Our education programme
As a community energy partner, WeSET welcomed people to a family event organised by WeSET's Education Officer Emma Arnold, which featured Westmill site tours and demonstrations, plus a moth-making workshop, and other creative workshops linked to energy, sustainability and biodiversity.
Pictured below are a few of the moths installed in the Glasgow Botanical Gardens with Solar Chair, Tom Parkinson and Clare Mains from Plymouth Energy Community who helped co-ordinate the project.
Westmill Tours Progressing:
Our colleagues at the Westmill Sustainable Energy Trust (WeSET) offer regular tours of the Westmill site for people who wish to learn more about the importance of renewable energy. Nearly 200 people have visited the Westmill site during the past five months and virtual tours of Westmill are also held online, to enable WeSET to reach out to people who are beyond any sort of commutable journey to the site.
Further detail of the many ways with which to visit Westmill is available on the WeSET website [https://www.weset.org/plan-your-visit/].
WeSET also has some great volunteering opportunities to meet, greet and lead visitors around Westmill, if you are interested in helping out then please email firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.