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About DDCE


Harnessing the potential of our communities to power a sustainable future.


Our core purpose is to help our local communities develop community energy projects. A social enterprise that

  • Reduces carbon emissions through renewable generation and energy efficiency
  • Keeps the money we spend on this energy within the local community and so benefits the local community.

Community energy refers to the delivery of community-led renewable energy, energy demand reduction and energy supply projects, whether wholly owned and/or controlled by communities or through partnership with commercial or public sector partners.

Area of operation

Derbyshire Dales has a rich history of using renewable energy to power industry. The industrial revolution in Upper Lumsdale was all powered by water from Bentley Brook. Richard Arkwright built his first water powered cotton mill in Cromford.

We want to build upon this legacy and reintroduce renewable energy into the district and enable more businesses to be self-sustaining in terms of their energy use.

Initial projects

Solar PV is one of the most mature of renewable energy systems and, together with energy storage systems such as batteries, it can provide a reliable source of electricity.

Building mounted PV panels use existing structures, and so do not compete with alternative forms of land use. Buildings such as factories, offices, retail, and schools also have a daily demand for electricity enabling the electricity generated to be used at source. Car parks, which have space for canopies upon which PV panels can be located, and which are adjacent to buildings, are also suitable locations.

For our initial projects the intention is to work with organisations which have space for solar PV panels and a daytime demand for electricity. These projects are low risk and will enable us to build up capacity and expertise.

In the longer-term renewables such as wind power and hydropower can also be considered. However, both these sources are more complex to implement and have a longer implementation time. Wind turbines need to be positioned in windy areas, which in Derbyshire Dales tends to be on hills, and so they can have visibility issues from the National Park. Hydropower requires extraction licences from the water companies.

Our History

In response to Derbyshire Dales District Council declaring a climate emergency an initial group of interested individuals got together to look at how we could harness the potential of our communities to power a sustainable future. In January 2021 we commissioned a report “Stepping Stones”: which explores the important role of energy in transitioning to vibrant, exciting, sustainable futures. It looks beyond a straight swap of fossil fuels for renewables and focus on the local benefits and wider advantages to be gained through energy democracy.

In March 2021 we worked with Matlock Town Council to bid for Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) funds for a feasibility study to identify two suitable sites for energy generation within Matlock where resources available can be used to generate electrical power in a sustainable manner. We were awarded a grant of £40k to carry out this work. We completed the work in January 2022 and identified two viable sites for building mounted solar PV arrays: a 70kW scheme at Twigg Stores and a 150kW scheme at Highfields Upper School.

To bid for RCEF Phase 2 development funds we had to become a formally constituted body: in January 2022 we became a Community Benefit Society registered with the Financial Conduct Authority.

In March 2022 we were awarded a phase 2 grant from the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF), through the Midlands Net Zero Hub.

This grant was to support the installation of community energy systems in Matlock and ensure a viable community energy organisation that will be able to continue with the development of further community energy schemes within Matlock and neighbouring communities. It was aimed at bringing our two sites to the point that they are funded and ready to be installed. It will also ensure that the community energy organisation can move forward with sufficient capacity and resources to continue further development. We appointed Sharenergy to carry out this work on our behalf. They are carrying out these tasks: Technical assessment, Regulatory work, Procurement of installer, Business planning, Community engagement, Legal and power purchase agreements, Community share offer,

This detailed development work showed that we would need to develop community energy sites with at least 1 MWp of installed capacity to make our community energy group financially viable and be in a position to launch a community share offer. This entailed identifying more sites than the original two in our Phase 1 project. The additional work and risk entailed in going down this route meant that we would not be able to complete the work and go out for a community share offer before the end of the grant funding in February 2023.

So, in September 2022 we agreed that we would partner with Big Solar Co-op. They will raise finance, install the solar panels and manage them for the lifetime of the solar panels.

Our partnership the Big Solar Co-op will also enable us to continue to work with new sites in Derbyshire beyond the end of the RCEF funding in February 2023.