Ideas for Scotland’s largest community-owned solar project to be outlined

Dundee UniBuilding Scotland’s largest community-owned solar power park in Dundee would help tackle fuel poverty, reduce CO2 emissions and regenerate derelict and contaminated land, according to a speaker appearing at the University of Dundee next week.

Helen Grayshan, lead officer from Solar Cities Scotland, will tell the University’s Centre for Environmental Change and Human Resilience (CECHR) how the organisation hopes to develop a community-owned solar power park in the city which would be unique in Scotland.

Fuel Poverty in Dundee and Community Owned Renewable Energy – A Solution?’ takes place at 12-2pm on Tuesday, 7th October in River Room 3, Tower Building. Helen will outline proposals for a community organisation to own a large-scale, ground-mounted solar PV site, income from which would tackle fuel poverty by funding energy efficiency measures and renewable energy installations in hard-to-heat homes.

She said: “We are still at an exploratory stage and collecting data to make a business case but we believe there is great potential for the first community-owned solar energy farm of this scale to be built in Dundee. The East Coast of Scotland is the best place to develop solar projects due to the number of hours of sunshine and Dundee is well placed to take advantage of this as Scotland’s sunniest city. Ideally a local customer will come forward to buy clean green energy from the community.

“There is very little of this type of activity in urban areas but great need due to Dundee’s fuel poverty profile. A medium scale site would be two acres with the potential to generate 500kW of energy, enough to power 170 homes. Income generated would then be used to fund further efficiency and renewable energy schemes across the city.

“Efficiencies and technological improvements have been made, which is great in terms of reducing emissions but their effectiveness in tackling fuel poverty has been diminished by rising prices. We are seeing that no matter what you do you are at the mercy of the markets so maybe it’s time to start generating our own power.

“We would be looking to develop on derelict or contaminated land, and several potential sites across the city have been identified, but obviously we also need to demonstrate the economic, ecological and social benefits as well as attracting the required funding.

“The cost of solar PV panels has fallen dramatically in recent years and the indications are this will continue to come down. The UK is now the 4th largest market for solar power in the world and, anecdotally, we are hearing that existing large-scale PV solar farms are outperforming expectations and this is something we are seeking confirmation of as we make the case for this development.”

CECHR is a joint initiative between the University and James Hutton Institute established in 2009 to provide a focus for novel interdisciplinary research addressing societal responses to environmental change and promoting sustainability.

It acts as a framework to bring expertise from different subject areas together to work on complicated issues in the hope of influencing policymakers and is strongly aligned to the University’s Transformation vision through promoting a low-carbon economy and a more just equitable society where the global population lives sustainably within environmental limits.

‘Fuel Poverty in Dundee and Community Owned Renewal Energy – A Solution?’ takes place from 12-2pm on Tuesday, 7th October at River Room 3, Tower Building. The event is a CECHR Local Speaker Working Lunch, and more information is available here.

Solar Cities Scotland is a local charity promoting low carbon living through free advice, education and demonstrations in energy efficiency and renewable energy. They can be contacted on 01382 501 730.

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