Eden Solarfair

By SDRN on 14th February 2013

LOCATION: St Austell, Cornwall

AIM: To demonstrate that renewable energy can be of financial benefit to people who cannot afford to install solar PV panels on their own roofs.

BACKGROUND: The Eden Project is a charitable trust, envisioned by Tim Smit in 1994, and opened in March 2001 with funding from the Millennium Commission. Three biomes were developed in a former china clay pit at Bodelva, near St Austell; the human tropics ‘Rainforest’ biome, a warm temperate ‘Mediterranean’ biome, and the ‘Outdoor’ temperate biome. A central feature of the Eden Project and its activities and programmes is the promotion of environmental education, seeking to reconnect people with their local and global environments.

ACTIVITIES: The Eden Project has recently installed its first employee-owned solar plant in collaboration with Ebico, a UK not-for-profit energy supplier, and Plug into the Sun, a South West PV installation company. This is the first initiative run by Ebico’s ‘Social Ventures in Energy’ subsidiary. The partnership will provide Eden Project staff the opportunity to invest in a renewable scheme which will provide free renewable energy for the Eden Project (generated by the solar panels) but will also offer employees potentially attractive return on their investment through the benefits of the Feed-in Tariff renewable energy incentive scheme. With a minimum entry point of £200 to buy a stake in the project, the aim is for ‘Eden Solarfair’ to be owned entirely by Eden staff, and to generate valued returns for those who could not otherwise afford to install PV panels on their own roofs.

The Eden project has set a target to cut their carbon dioxide emissions by 25% by 2013 (compared with 2008). Their long-term aim is to reduce emissions by a further 55% by 2015. This would constitute an 80% reduction in total – equivalent to the Government’s national target for 2050. The PV panels, installed on two roofs in the Eden Project operational support area, have a maximum total output of 49.5kW. Through leading by example, the Eden Project hopes that communities around the UK will be inspired to adopt such renewable energy installations, thereby achieving rapid growth in low carbon energy source adoption, whilst also addressing the regressive element currently apparent within the UK Feed-in Tariff scheme.