Cuckmere Community Solar had an unusual beginning. Our first move was helping developers to achieve planning permission for a solar farm in our community in 2013. In return, they helped us to get planning permission for our own 4MW community solar farm, enough to power about 800 homes.
After changes to policy surrounding support for solar energy, we had to rethink our plan as selling energy to the grid just wasn't feasible financially. Our friends at Community Energy South suggested selling power to the railway as an alternative, and so we decided to go for it!
We became part of a new venture called Riding Sunbeams which set out to prove that it was possible to power railways with renewables. Selling energy to Network Rail would give us a viable route to market for our power, and help the railway to save money and reduce its carbon footprint too.
We raised £50,000 through investors, and commenced the project in early 2020. We've continued to work with Riding Sunbeams, other partners and local people to make this happen and expect to start building the solar farm early in 2022.
Big hurdles sometimes have the perfect solution. When government policy changed and we no longer had the support we thought we would, it was a huge setback. By reaching out to partners to get new inspiration and learn about what other people are doing, we discovered Riding Sunbeams and learnt we might be able to sell our energy to the railway.
Working with other, similar projects can be a big win for all involved. By recognising the benefits of solar energy and helping developers to get planning permission for their solar farm, they also helped us to get planning permission for ours.
The amount of energy our solar will generate.
The number of local people involved.