Chester’s Northgate Arena is now generating solar energy thanks to a community initiative aimed at reducing the city’s carbon footprint.
No fewer than 400 roof-top solar panels are producing a maximum 100kW of electricity during daylight hours which is used by the leisure centre – saving money and reducing its impact on the environment.
Backers admit this is only ‘a fraction’ of the centre’s annual energy needs. But every little helps.
Residents bought £62,000 worth of shares in cooperative Chester Community Energy Ltd (CCEL) to fund the first 200 solar panels in a scheme that also offers financial rewards. Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) paid for a further 200 panels.
CCEL director Graham Booth said “There is tremendous support for community energy projects in Chester. Sixty-two thousand pounds was raised in just six weeks by local people during July and August. Renewable energy is popular with people in general and many are willing to support volunteers working as community entrepreneurs in the field of green energy.
“It is a particularly exciting time for the green revolution, with solar and wind turbine prices still falling and new innovations appearing continually across a range of energy-related technologies. Chester Community Energy is an ambitious organisation and is determined to play a part in the future of renewable energy in the Chester area, acting as advisor, partner or prime mover on projects involving a range of renewable energy technologies.”
The CCEL installation, in partnership with Brio Leisure and CWaC, has been funded by local people who became members of the benefit society when they bought shares in the enterprise and will receive annual interest payments on their investment. The scheme will also provide a surplus of £40,000 over its 20-year life to fund further projects and community benefits related to saving energy.
To mark the completion of their first project, a gathering of members (shareholders) was held on Tuesday (October 18) at Hoole Community Centre where supporters received their share certificates. Members were invited to meet each other and given the opportunity to ask questions about the project and how the benefit society works.
A video was shown of the installation work carried out by Chester-based contractor Genfit and there was a presentation about the scheme by director Francesca Moore followed by a discussion concerning outline plans for the future.
For more information about Genfit visit their website by clicking here.