TWO Oxfordshire green energy projects are in the run for a national award.
Low Carbon Hub Oxford and the West Mill Solar Park at Watchfield are nominated for The Observer’s 2014 Ethical Award for community energy projects.
They have been picked out of dozens of UK schemes and the winner will get £2,000 from the National Grid. It recognises “cost-busting, future-proofing energy projects or schemes powered by and designed for communities”.
Hub spokeswoman Georgina Matthews said: “We are helping to build renewable energy infrastructure in Oxfordshire and helping to pull together different groups.
“Oxfordshire is a big leader in the UK but we need an even bigger push. Our long-term goal is to replicate this organisation in other counties.”
The 30-acre solar park at Watchfield generates enough power for 1,400 homes a year and opened for public shares last year.
This attracted 1,500 investors with priority given to nearby residents and is believed to be the UK’s first cooperatively run and owned solar farm.
Electricity is sold to the National Grid and residents in the area and any profits goes to shareholders.
Co-operative director Adam Twine said: “It’s great to be shortlisted. At Westmill we are pioneering the community energy revolution and we hope it will continue to develop in this country.
“We are pushing the boundaries of what is possible in what is a win-win for consumers and the people who live near us.
“People have a stake and that is changing the way energy is produced and owned.”
Oxford City Council executive board member for Cleaner Greener Oxford John Tanner said: “Low Carbon Hub is a fantastic organisation that turns people’s money into wonderful, sustainable green projects and I am also a big fan of solar power. If there is any justice, they will top the polls.
“There is no doubt that Oxfordshire is leading the way on reducing carbon emissions in the UK. If everywhere was like it we could probably stop global warming in its tracks.”
Low Carbon Hub is currently trying to work with businesses and schools in a new solar energy scheme.
Non-executive director of finance Wendy Twist said that panels could be installed on “wasted space” found on rooftops around the county.
She said: “If there is a roof that is not being used we can ask companies and organisations to lease us the space to us cheaply.
“We can then do a deal where we can install solar panels and provide them with cheap and green electricity and any surplus can be sold for profit to the national grid.”
Winners will be judged by experts and industry leaders and announced at a ceremony in London on June 11.
Also shortlisted is Lancaster Cohousing, which creates eco-friendly and inter-generational housing communities.
For more information, visit theguardian.com/observer-ethical-awards
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