Village halls and sports clubs tend to be large buildings which could accommodate roof-mounted solar panels to generate renewable energy during the daytime. In the countryside, the majority are off gas and rely on either electric or oil / gas tanks for heating. As they tend to be used in the evening and weekends, it is anticipated that there is potential to create carbon and cash savings by developing solar panel arrays with battery storage capacity.
The halls are managed by volunteers without particular knowledge or confidence in investigating the complex technical information to change their energy and heating systems to low carbon options.
We therefore supported a desktop study for each participating hall to look at the potential to generate and store energy for later use or even to sell on to the national grid. 20 village halls had a detailed assessment of the solar, water or ground source heat pump options, linked to battery storage. The outline costs, energy generation potential and payback periods were estimated. A further phase looked at potential funding sources and detailed energy modelling and costing exercises, in order to generate financial and carbon assessments of the energy systems. The study also reviewed the potential to link the batteries so the halls could provide community based energy at greater scale.
The study was free and there was obligation to implement the findings.
The study was completed in 2021 and the participating halls are now considering taking the study further to investigate structural soundness of the buildings (to take solar photovoltaics), electrical systems, planning implications (some are in National Parks or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and potential to link with Electric Vehicle charging points for greater use of the stored energy.
We asked all the village halls in Ryedale, through the local community and voluntary sector support agency, Community First Yorkshire, if this was something they were interested in. A group discussion (in person, pre-Covid!) was held to discuss the pros and cons and this was very helpful in determining concerns and opportunities. So bringing participants with you is very important.
We applied via the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) which was a great resource and if it continues, I would recommend that.
The study broke down information for each village hall and also aggregated the details to support further joint bids to RCEF or other funders so flexibility is also important.
Amount of funding the scheme has been awarded.