Solar power helps Totnes lead the way for transition towns

Solar power helps Totnes lead the way for transition towns

Transition Town Totnes (TTT), a community led charity focused on cutting carbon emissions, has recently won The Ashden Award for local sustainable energy solutions thanks in part to its work with Kier.

In 2009 TTT won a government grant of £625,000 from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to pilot a community carbon cutting scheme. After a competitive tender process, Kier’s’ energy solutions team was chosen to install solar PV systems onto 70 properties, with up to 14 panels per house. The large Civic Hall in Totnes was also part of the scheme, which generates 13,000kWh per annum from 75 solar PV cells.

In 2010, Kier was awarded phase two of the project, cutting energy costs to another 60 homes. Each property has a Smart Meter installed, which acts as a mobile phone device calculating how much energy the solar panels produce, enabling Kier’s’ energy solutions team to log the process by receiving texts from the meter. Householders have already generated 84,685kWh of free energy, saving a total of 48,101kg of CO2.

Now that the DECC grants are no longer available, TTT has introduced a new local bulk buying club to help fund PV installations to homes in the Transition Streets scheme, with Kier again being selected as the supplier. The Transition Streets projects gets small groups of neighbours together who then help each other to make practical changes to cut their energy bills and carbon emissions.

The solar PV system will not only give homeowners and tenants free renewable energy, they will also be paid by energy companies for all the extra electricity they generate, as part of the DECC’’s Feed-in Tariff (FiT). Local householders in the scheme have earned an estimated £23,894 to date via the FiT.

Fiona Ward, project manager of Transition Streets, commented, “’As Transition Town Totnes has shown, what we’’ve started here can spread elsewhere incredibly rapidly and virally. Solar PV and other renewable technologies play a key part in our transition, giving people the independence of generating their own electricity. We chose Kier not just on price, quality of work and its proven systems, but also because it was important for us to work with a local company.’”

The Ashden Awards reward and promote local sustainable energy solutions in the UK and the developing world. Through the awards, they aim to raise awareness of the huge potential of local sustainable energy to both tackle climate change and improve the quality of people’s lives.

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