Kent Community Energy
A chance to get involved with community owned solar
Orchard Farm Solar Array in North Kent, has been up and running since 2016. It is owned by a local non-profit group, Orchard Community Energy, with profits going to support community projects in Swale and Medway.
A fantastic opportunity has arisen to bring a neighbouring solar farm into full community ownership through a new group - Kent Community Energy.
This has the potential to provide a fund of over £1 million to support social and sustainability initiatives in the wider Kent area over the next 23 years.
The Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) has been working with experienced partner organisations and Orchard Community Energy - with backing from Power to Change and Big Society Capital - to help make this happen.
Between April and June 2020, members of the local community - in partnership with CSE, Orchard Community Energy and the CORE consortium - have been busy developing what will soon become Kent Community Energy.
The group are now at the exciting stage of having appointed the Board Members for their working group. John Partington is taking on the role of chair, Penny Shepherd as Vice Chair, and Duane Poppe as secretary. The board are being supported by the wider team involved in the working group.
Over the coming months the working group will be undertaking exciting work to develop Kent Community Energy further as a Community Benefit Society. Should you be interested in getting involved please get in touch here.
Kent Community Energy are already delivering positive impacts for their local community. See the recent press release below about financial support Kent Community Energy has been able to offer to local groups to help alleviate the impacts of Covid-19.
About Kent Community Energy Solar Farm
Located on farmland in North Kent, near Sittingbourne
Adjacent to the community-owned Orchard Farm solar array which already supports great community initiatives in Swale and Medway
Nearly 20,000 panels with a capacity of 5MW
Powering the equivalent of around 1,600 homes
Saving 2,500 tonnes carbon per year
Kent Community Energy advances £46,000 to support local Covid-19 relief
29 April 2020: Grants will support food bank, mental health & domestic abuse initiatives.
Kent Community Energy is making available £46,000 from the Community Benefit Fund of Orchard 2 solar farm, near Sittingbourne, to support local initiatives to help tackle the coronavirus emergency.
Initially, four local charities will each benefit from grants of up to £5,000 to help them support local people facing problems exacerbated by the pandemic, ranging from getting food to mental health. They are all charities that Kent Community Energy has worked with before on energy-related issues; their aim is that this support will help build long-term resilience in the community.
The Canterbury Umbrella Centre, a community hub supporting people with mental health and physical illness, will receive £5000 to cover the costs of lost revenue from the forced closure of its well-being café and missed charitable and fundraising activities.
SATEDA, which supports victims of domestic abuse in the Swale area, will receive £5000 to create a fund to provide immediate help to those living under lockdown who need to flee a relationship.
Children and Families, which runs the Family Food Bank, will receive £5000 to allow them to create a delivery network to reach those in need across Swale, Maidstone, Thanet and Ashford.
Abbey Physic Community Garden in Faversham, which supports people with mental health difficulties and the socially isolated, will receive £3,199 to buy tablet computers to help staff and members with their roles while the garden is closed, and to provide seed growing kits for people to grow at home.
Penny Shepherd, Kent Community Energy Vice Chair, said: “It has been fantastic to see our local communities coming together to help tackle the Covid-19 crisis and we are very pleased that Orchard 2 community solar farm can be part of this. These grants will help to alleviate the immediate need for help, but importantly they will also play a role in the long-term recovery of our communities, building a society that is resilient against both social problems and climate change.”