Welsh community energy scheme wins solar award

Egni Co-op was honoured at the Solar & Storage Live Awards for a 27-site project

A rooftop solar project involving 27 buildings across Newport has won the Alan Clark award for local/community energy at this year’s Solar & Storage Live Awards.

The annual awards recognise the best UK and international solar projects in commercial, residential and community sectors.

The Newport City Council project was made possible with development grant funding and a detailed feasibility study from the Welsh Government Energy Service.

Managed by community organisation Egni Co-op, the project has installed over 6,000 solar panels across council owned buildings across Newport, including the Geraint Thomas National Velodrome of Wales. The installation is over 2MW and is the biggest rollout of rooftop solar in Wales.

Egni has now raised over £2m from a community share offer from over 1,000 individuals and organisations. The Welsh Government Energy Service secured a £2.12m loan from the Welsh Local Government Energy Fund – managed by the Development Bank of Wales – to fund ongoing projects across Wales. 

Accepting the award, Dan McCallum, co-director of Egni Co-op, said “This has been an amazing partnership project. School staff and pupils in Newport were also critical to making this project a success. Newport were the first Council to work with us and that early commitment has since enabled us to expand across Wales.”

Lesley Griffiths, Welsh minister for environment, energy and rural affairs, said: “I would like to congratulate Egni and Newport City Council for their success at this year’s Solar & Storage Live Awards.

“Local energy projects such as these play a crucial role in our journey towards decarbonisation and making Wales a net-zero nation, and we are very pleased that we are able to support such projects through the Welsh Government Energy Service.

“As a government, we have enabled £27m of investment to mobilise the public sector and communities to carry out renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. To date, these projects have created 26MW in renewable energy capacity – enough energy to power more than 8,000 homes.

“This clearly demonstrates our commitment to delivering against our policy on local ownership of locally-produced energy.”

Geraint Thomas National Velodrome of Wales

Newport City Council has set a target of becoming a carbon neutral organisation by 2030, with the solar panels generating a combined total of 1,973,000 units of clean renewable electricity per year with most of the electricity generated being used on site.

Cllr Deb Davies, cabinet member for sustainable development at Newport City Council, said “We’re delighted that our partnership has been recognised on a national level with this award win. Our ambition of becoming a carbon neutral organisation by 2030 is a key tenet of our pledge to build a better Newport, and the renewable energy that all these sites will produce is a positive step towards meeting that ambition.”

Owen Callender, from the Sustainable Communities Wales programme, said: “Our work supporting Welsh community organisations suggests a strong appetite for sustainable change, and it is encouraging to see Newport City Council working with Egni Co-op to lead by example and prove that the future is already possible.”