23rd July was one of the hottest days of the year so far, coming in the midst of the sunniest summer for decades. It was sweltering, but such a sun-soaked evening seemed like a totally fitting day to celebrate the completion of SE24’s latest installations which consist of large solar PV arrays at St Christopher’s Hospice, and at Dulwich College. These are now generating at full capacity delivering cheaper and greener electricity.
SE24 already had installations on Herne Hill United Church and Herne Hill Methodist Church Hall, but St Christopher’s and Dulwich College are by far our largest projects to date. These latest installations have massively increased our generating capacity. We now have over 200KW generating capacity (that’s over 800 panels). SE24 is now one of the largest of the 200 community energy groups around the country. For SE24 this marks the high point of 4 years of dedicated hard work and St Christopher’s hosted a celebration to remember.
In St Christopher’s wonderfully cool education centre, partners, investors and friends heard from:
- Shaun O’Leary, (Joint Chief Executive at St Christopher’s Hospice), and Jayne Black, (Vice Chair of Governors at Dulwich College and Chair of the Property and Operations Committee) about the benefits of these installations to SE24’s partners
- Councillor Richard Livingstone, (Southwark Council, Cabinet member for Environment, Transport Management and Air Quality) put SE24’s achievements into a local and national policy context and explained how SE24’s work supports the many ways in which Southwark Council themselves are trying to green their energy policy.
- Alan Jones, (Chair of SE24) spoke about what lies ahead for SE24. Three Phase 3 installations are being investigated for 2019 completion.
- Mark Hughes, (Treasurer of SE24) and Ian Penistone, (Head of Facilities and Estates, St Christopher’s Hospice) took everyone up on to the roofs at St Christopher to inspect the installations.
All the speakers warned against the dangers posed by the government’s plans to end the Feed-in-Tariff and stressed the need for all of us to respond to the current consultation to ensure the pioneering work of community energy groups continues and is strengthened. (If you want to find our more about the consultation and how to respond and what do say you find SE24’s suggestions here.)
Helen Hayes MP offered her own message of support: ‘I’m very sorry to miss tonight’s launch event, which clashes with a meeting of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee that I sit on in Parliament. It is really fantastic to see this landmark moment in SE24’s work which I’ve been delighted to support. Congratulations to everyone on your commitment to deliver sustainable energy in our community in a policy environment which has at times been very challenging in recent years. I look forward to seeing you go from strength to strength and to doing whatever I can to support you so that we see many more solar panel installations across Dulwich and West Norwood and beyond.’
Ian Penistone Head of Facilities and Estates at St Christopher’s Hospice said ‘This project has been such a benefit for St Christopher’s. We get cheaper electricity which saves us money, and yet we don’t have to spend a penny ourselves or go to our funders for help. It is a win-win for us.’
Alan Jones, Chair of SE 24, said: ‘We are proud to partner with such a beloved local institution as St Christopher’s. We strongly believe that switching to solar energy is one practical way we can contribute to tackling climate change. With this wonderful summer, our large array of panels on St Christophers and Dulwich College have been hard at work generating solar energy!’
Future SE24 projects include Walworth Methodist Church. Alan Jones continued: ‘We hope to support local projects to tackle fuel poverty or raise awareness of sustainable energy. And we’re always on the look out for future possible partners. So if you have a bright idea, or run a community building, do get in touch!’