Ouse Valley Solar Farm

Ovesco is developing a large 17 MW solar farm that will add to local energy security while supporting Lewes District Council’s carbon-reduction goals.

Ouse Valley Solar Farm logo.
Rural community-owned solar farm generating electricity from the sun.
Powered through community investment.

Our story

Community energy company Ovesco (Ouse Valley Energy Services) has been operating since 2007 and set up one of the first community solar share offers back in 2011. Since then, Ovesco has developed 15 solar rooftop PV projects in Sussex and raised £1.2M on ethical investment platform Ethex to support a 5MW solar farm south of Chichester for Meadow Blue Community Energy. Now we are bringing together a decade of experience and knowledge to develop our biggest community energy project to date – Ouse Valley Solar Farm. This 17 MW community-owned solar farm will generate enough energy to power the equivalent of 4000 homes.

Ovesco is based in Lewes, and it’s important that we maintain a focus on supporting community energy projects in the local area. Lewes uses around 26 MW of electricity annually and we are committed to investing in initiatives that offset this usage as closely as possible. By 2025, across our projects, we should have reached around 26 MW of energy production.

Ovesco completed an initial stage 1 RCEF grant-funded feasibility study for a new solar farm in the Lewes district, followed by a stage 2 RCEF grant to take the Ouse Valley Solar Farm through to planning stage. We’ve worked with engineering company Buro Happold and Communities for Renewables during the feasibility stage, and their professional support as well as legal and project development skills have been invaluable. We aim to start construction in 2022-23 if planning permission is granted. The project will be partially funded by a community share offer of around £1M.

In addition to energy production, the farm will also support biodiversity and is designed to allow small animals, birds, insects, and other wildlife to flourish. We are also committed to supporting the local economy by using local suppliers wherever possible during construction.

This is Ovesco’s biggest and most complex community energy project to date, and the first time we have started from scratch. From obtaining landowner permission and getting the grid offer to moving through the planning process and engaging early community responses, much of the work to date has been undertaken by the company directors as volunteers or paid for through our existing successful projects. We are lucky to have a highly skilled team – experienced in developing solar farms – who have steered and de-risked the project at every stage. With the support of Lewes District Council and the RCEF grant funding, we believe we have the backing, confidence, and skills to make this project a success.

Our advice

Understand every part of the process – Any community energy group embarking on a project such as a solar farm must secure feasibility funding, an agreement with a landowner, a grid connection offer, and additional funding or a loan. Engage experts and specialists to ensure you have the skills you need to succeed.

Reach out for local and national support – There are a number of groups that provide expert advice and resources to support community energy groups. Community Energy South does a range of online masterclasses that we would highly recommend. These organisations can also help to connect you with opportunities for grant funding.

Think about scale – With the feed-in tariff no longer available you need to either work with an existing community energy group or work at a scale that makes projects viable and sustainable. Think about the lifetime of the project and how you will engage the people needed to keep it running day-to-day.

Our metrics

  • Amount of solar PV delivered (17MW).
  • Number of homes powered (over 4,000).

Read more: https://ovesco.co.uk/ouse-valley-solar-farm/

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