Biomass share offer

Exciting progress for one of our Community Energy Challenge groups

16 March 2015

Last week (10 March) marked the launch of a share offer to fund a valuable biomass energy project, originally supported by our Community Energy Challenge and run on behalf of The
Co-operative Group. Springbok Co-op, which evolved from Wey Valley Woodfuel, was recently established to carry out the sizeable project. Its share offer will fund a wood chip fuelled district heating system to supply residential buildings on the Springbok Estate near Alford in Surrey.

Situated away from the gas grid, heating to the estate is currently supplied by old boilers in need of expensive maintenance or replacement. A new boiler house and fuel silo will be built and run on locally produced wood chip. The renewable energy source was well considered as the estate is located in one of the most heavily wooded areas of England. Not only will the introduced biomass system create a local market for woodchip, but it will also benefit biodiversity in the area by bringing neglected woodland back into sustainable management.

Through the Community Energy Challenge, Wey Valley Woodfuel were supported to:

  • Identify and overcome barriers
  • Raise awareness of community renewables
  • Create a scheme that could be replicated elsewhere
  • Encourage a co-operative ownership model

In our last update on the challenge projects in early 2014, the group were making good progress – they’d submitted planning permission and were waiting for approval. They reported that “having access to the finance to help pay for things like expert advice and planning has probably been our greatest benefit from the Challenge.

“Our biggest challenge was finding suitable sites and then getting them to say yes to the project.”

Given the problems they faced securing a location, this well-thought-out project is a model example of what can be achieved by raising the awareness renewables within a community.

For full details of the share offer visit www.springbokwoodheat.co.uk

The offer will close when fully subscribed or on 31 March.

Image: Flickr, William Warby, reproduced under a Creative Commons license.

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