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RCEF Funding report

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Our Phase 2 funding from the Rural Community Energy Fund came to an end in March 2023. The full report on our work can be found here.

Executive Summary from report

Derbyshire Dales Community Energy, a Community Benefit Society based in Matlock, has worked with support from Matlock Town Council, Derbyshire Dales District Council and Derbyshire County Council to assemble a portfolio of sites that may host community owned rooftop photovoltaic arrays. 47 sites have been considered in the process, with a final portfolio of seven sites being brought forward. Four of these are confirmed and proceeding toward installation, with a further three sites still under negotiation.

Structural surveys and planning approvals were successfully completed out on all four sites, and a tendering process for an installer was also carried out. Grid connection applications have been submitted for two of the sites with one successfully approved by project close.

Due to considerations of capacity in the local group and concerns about the risk and viability of the small size of the portfolio of confirmed sites, Derbyshire Dales Community Energy took the decision to develop the sites through the Big Solar Co-op. The Big Solar Co-op is a nationwide carbon-first non-profit working to install and operate PV arrays on sites across the UK.

This had several implications for the project as initially defined: whilst there would still be local raising of share capital, these shares would be in the national co-operative. Installation and procurement would be done through the Big Solar Co-op’s pipeline, although pledges were secured to use local contractors and to develop sites for local community benefit that might not be viable if considered in isolation.

As a result of this project, at least two community owned PV arrays will be installed in Derbyshire Dales this calendar year, with more to follow. A community energy network has been established across Derbyshire and the county and community are rapidly expanding its ambitions.