Wadebridge, sitting in picturesque North Cornwall is a sight to behold with its abundance of solar panels furnishing rooftops with not inexpensive solar pv equipment. This concentration of roof mounted solar pv panels in Wadebridge has not occurred by chance, rather it is the result of a project designed to make the Cornish town the first in the country to be powered by solar energy.
The project, known as the Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network or WREN is a scheme which hopes to meet self set targets of generating a third of its electricity from solar by 2015. By hooking into the government’s feed-in tariff mechanism WREN has hoped to install projects throughout the town and of course off sets costs through the tariff scheme. With bold targets of installing 7MW by 2015, Wadebridge could become a potential beacon for wholesale community solar projects in the UK but of course also reflects the fickle nature of an industry completely reliant on government tariff legislation.
The feed-in tariff enables small scale solar pv generators to generate revenue for the electricity produced and consumed by solar projects. Through the feed-in tariff WREN has projected that it could potentially generate £2.5million over the project’s 25 year life span with the money being reinvested back into other green energy projects. Recent announcements of the cuts to be made to the tariff could prove detrimental to Wren’s plans and the potential for healthy yields over the course of the project.
Stephen Frankel, the founder of Wren explained that,
“In contrast to recent green announcements, their success could be limited due to Government proposals to restrict the size of solar installations in the UK”.
“Proposals to limit the Feed-in tariff, payment for clean electricity, to small 50kWp systems means the town wouldn’t go ahead with mid to large scale projects which would bring much needed income into their community fund and help the town meet their renewable energy targets”.