Chase Community Solar

Two MSc students from Keele University presented their findings on an energy savings project on 20 June 2017 at a meeting in Cannock attended by Chase Community Solar, Cannock Chase Council and Chase Tenants and Residents Federation.
 
Chase Community Solar (CCS), a community benefit society, has recently taken advantage of the Keele Research and Innovation Support Programme (KRISP) to explore the impact of solar PV panels on tenants’ bungalows in the Cannock area.  CCS is wholly member owned and was set up following discussions with Cannock Chase Council, who were keen to see electricity savings for their tenants from the installation of solar PV.
 
Cannock Chase is the second most deprived area in Staffordshire with high levels of fuel poverty, and Chase Community Solar was the first community energy project to raise funding from community shares to install solar PV on individual council-owned homes at scale.  In addition to this innovative idea, there are considerable carbon savings to be made. 
 
In December 2016, Luke Bellamy and Connor Donohue, both studying a postgraduate degree in Environmental Sustainability and Green Technologies, were appointed as Research, Development and Innovation Associates to work on Stage 2 of the Chase Community Solar project.
 
A total of 314 bungalows received free installation of solar PV panels on their council properties in 2015, and stage two of the project involved devising a questionnaire and conducting some face-to-face interviews with residents to explore their feedback, awareness and understanding of the impact the panels have had on their electricity usage.  The report presented by Luke and Connor highlighted that there is more scope for education of tenants on energy literacy and consultation on how these projects can bring them further benefits. 
 
Mike Kinghan, Chair of Chase Community Solar, comments: “As a community benefit society we were set up to help tenants reduce their energy bills and the KRISP offer from Keele University was a fantastic opportunity to have students carry out this valuable piece of work for us.  The feedback gained from their report is very important, as we can now look at the implications and improve further on what is being done and our plans for future community initiatives.”
 
Christian Hawkins, Housing Property Services Officer at Cannock District Council said: “The collaboration of Chase Community Solar, Keele University, KRISP, Cannock Chase District Council and Cannock District Tenant Federation has seen a fantastic project to support our tenants following the installation of solar panels to their homes.  The report and presentation provided by the hard work and dedication of Connor and Luke is a great way to conclude the second phase of this project and to open the door to new ideas and help that can be provided to our tenants in the future.”
 
The students themselves found the project interesting and Luke comments: “Having been involved in a project where I am depended on by an organisation to achieve a result in line with project goals and timescales whilst studying has given me a sense of achievement.  It has also provided me with the confidence that I need going forwards into a career”.
 
ERDF logo The Keele Research and Innovation Support Programme (KRISP) is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as part of the England 2014 to 2020 European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Growth Programme.  Assistance to the Community Solar Scheme Evaluation Project will be provided by KRISP through the provision of a Research, Development and Innovation Associate.
 
Companies interested in taking part in the Keele Research and Innovation Support Programme should contact Keele University’s Business Gateway on 01782 733001 or business.gateway@keele.ac.uk.