RCEF Stage 2 Development grant for Clay Park

TRESOC and Transition Homes Community Land Trust (THCLT) are thrilled to announce TRESOC’s award of a second Government grant, for £79,710, from the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF). The money will be used for the development of a Community Microgrid and Solar scheme at THCLT’s Clay Park development. THCLT has planning permission for 31 highly energy-efficient eco-homes and are currently submitting a planning application to add eight more homes to the site to help balance the books. This application also includes plans to increase the biodiversity of the site through extra tree planting, marsh plants in the damper areas and bird, bee and bat boxes to house wildlife. The housing development will offer a choice of affordable rent or shared ownership for local people in housing need. It has invited TRESOC to become the energy supplier, and to own and operate the energy system.

The innovative microgrid design will enable residents to maximise the use of the 160kW rooftop Solar PV, by sending the green energy to wherever it is needed on site, rather than feeding it back to the grid as is customary. This will make it more efficient and enable the green energy to be sold to the residents at a reduced market rate. TRESOC envisages this to be 10% less than grid price, minimising residents’ energy bills. The energy system software will further maximise energy savings by heating hot water from the daytime solar.

TRESOC received a Stage 1 RCEF Grant to carry out a feasibility study that demonstrated the project is technically and economically viable. The Stage 2 Development Grant will now pay for the technical, legal, financial and community engagement work to take the project to the point of being finance ready.

Jon Rattenbury, Programme Manager for the SW Energy Hub, said: “We are delighted to be supporting TRESOC through the next stages of their Clay Park projects. Innovative projects such as this prove how much community initiatives can achieve in the energy space and the vital role projects like these play in the transition to net zero.”

The grant recognises the innovative nature of the project, which it is hoped will demonstrate an economically viable community business model for providing solar PV on housing estates that can be shared with other community energy groups, and the energy sector more widely. Part of the grant is specifically for knowledge sharing and dissemination, and TRESOC have waived any intellectual property rights. TRESOC are a member of the Devon Community Energy Network and has encouraged the establishment of a microgrids working group to facilitate this knowledge sharing. There are several local community energy groups exploring microgrids, who will be able to share the Clay Park legal and technical templates, greatly reducing their own development costs.

TRESOC are working with Buro Happold for the technical design and Ansley Foot Solicitors for legal work. Communities for Renewables and Westerly Chartered Accountants will be providing financial advice. Within the technical design Buro Happold have already identified several software gaps and are using the project to kick start innovation in these areas which will help other small scale microgrids going forward.

The capital to pay for the infrastructure, ie the microgrid, solar and EV charging system – approximately £160,000 – will be raised through a community share offer. Clay Park residents, TRESOC members and the Totnes and Dartington community will be eligible to participate. The feasibility study projected an interest rate of 3% with a payback period of 20 years. Surplus income from the project will be used to support ongoing energy advice work with residents, a Clay Park Community Fund and TRESOC’s Renewable Energy Experiential Learning (REEL) programme for local primary schools.

On site at Clay Park, the access road has gone in. However, the main construction project is delayed while THCLT await the outcome of their revised planning application. They hope to begin construction in the new year.

AGM 2021

We are pleased to invite you to our Annual General Meeting at 7.00p.m. on Wednesday 10th November 2021. Members, friends and the public are welcome to attend, ask questions and help us develop our strategy for the year ahead – we’d like to welcome all of you!  Our goal – as always – is that you are aligned with, and endorse, the efforts we are making on your behalf.

The Directors’ Report and a summary of our latest Accounts to 31st March 2020 will be sent out to members by October 19th, or you can download them via the links below. A signed copy of the accounts has been submitted to the Financial Services Authority, and you can also see them using the link below. In order to attend, email admin@tresoc.co.uk to register and receive the link.

If you are a member and are unable to attend, it is vital you arrange a Proxy Vote. The Rules of TRESOC require 10% of members to vote at the AGM and, with 560 members, every vote counts. Please download and sign the Proxy Voting Form and put through the door at – or post to – TRESOC, 107 High Street, Totnes, TQ9 5SN, or scan and email to admin@tresoc.co.uk.

Biggest REEL ever at the Grove school in Totnes

105 children from years 5 and 6 at the Grove school in Totnes have taken part in TRESOC’s two-day Renewable Energy Experiential Learning (REEL) Programme. Day one was a field trip to Marley Head Wind Turbine, Marley Thatch Solar Farm and Totnes Weir Hydro. On day two (which we ran three times as there were so many children), we ran three workshops: in electronics, where children experimented with lemon batteries, mini solar panels, LEDs and multi-meters; in wind, where the children built vertical axis wind turbines out of recycled cardboard; and hydro, where children were asked to make a prototype for an Archimedes screw the way Archimedes intended – to move water uphill. They were given the materials and left to get on with it. Amazingly, several of the groups were able to complete the task with no help. Not sure how many adults would have been able to do this! The school were delighted with the project. Class teacher Miss Pearce commented that the project was amazing as all the children were totally engaged, and class teacher Mr Goud, thought the field trip really enhanced the learning experience.

The programme was enabled by a grant from the Chacegrove Family Foundation and delivered to the school for free. TRESOC is very grateful to them for their support and belief in the project.


TRESOC is also thankful to all the individuals and companies that collaborated on the project, including: South Brent Community Energy Society, Dart Renewables Ltd, Fisktek, RES, Quintas, Octopus Energy and TRESOC Volunteer Max Faircloth. TRESOC is incredibly lucky that so many local companies see the importance of educating the next generation about decentralised renewable energy and are happy to give up their time to make this happen.

FREE Moth Events in August

We are hosting three FREE family-friendly moth events in August, in conjunction with Art & Energy Collective’s Moths To A Flame project. The project invites people to think about their relationship with energy, ahead of COP26 in Glasgow later this year, and to record their message of hope to the delegates.

10th August – The Moth’s Whisper Book Reading by Miranda Barlow
2pm @ St John’s Church, Bridgetown, Totnes
There will be a free moth activity pack for every child who attends

Come and join KEVICC alumni writer and illustrator Miranda Barlow at St John’s Church in Bridgetown for a reading of her book The Moth’s Whisper*, followed by an augmented reality moth-making session with a moth colouring sheet. Your drawings will be brought to life using the QuiverVision App and you can record a selfie with your own whisper of hope for the future, then share it online using #MothsToAFlame.

The Moth’s Whisper was specially commissioned for Moths to a Flame. It follows the journey of Marny, a newly emerged Yellow Underwing moth as she emerges from her pupa and discovers the world of humans as she journeys in search of the moon.

*The collective noun for moths is a whisper.

12th August – Family Moth-Making Event for a magnificent Climate Emergency mass-participation art installation for COP26, Glasgow
10am, 11am, 12 noon, 2pm, 3pm @ Totnes Civic Hall

  • Moth Making
  • Record a message for COP26

17th August – Moth Watching
8.30am @ Totnes Weir Hydro

  • Talk from a local moth expert
  • Tour of the Hydro Plant
  • Record a message for #COP26
  • Make observational drawings of moths using handmade oak gall ink

Please pre-register for all events, to register please email charlotte@tresoc.co.uk

Places will be given out on a first come first served basis

REEL at St Christopher’s school, Staverton

TRESOC was delighted to be back in schools at the end of May, running its free renewable energy education programme for primary schools. The Renewable Energy Experiential Learning (REEL) programme ran with Year 6 at St Christopher’s Prep School in Staverton over two days.

On the field trip day, the children visited the Marley Head wind turbine (grateful thanks to South Brent Community Energy Society), Totnes weir hydro (with thanks to Dart Renewables Ltd), and the Dartington solar farm and woodfuel boiler (thanks to Dartington Hall Trust). TRESOC is extremely grateful to its sponsors for their ongoing support and access to their installations. As our Operations Director Sally Murrall-Smith said, “I’m aware of how lucky we are in Totnes, to have so many innovative organisations and embedded renewable technologies on our doorstep – organisations that are very happy to engage with the programme and enrich it. As a result, the children learn about renewable energy and wider energy issues. My hope is that the REEL programme empowers children by presenting positive ways to address climate change and busting some of the myths about renewable energy technologies.”

During the workshop day, the children took part in three workshops looking specifically at solar, wind and hydro technologies. For the solar workshop, the children carried out chemistry and physics experiments using electronics equipment. They also learned how important battery technologies are for renewables; without the them the energy is only available at the time it is being generated.

Alexandra Cottell, Head Mistress of the school thinks that ‘The REEL programme is a fantastic STEM project, that brings together physics, chemistry, maths and engineering into one place. It has been an enriching experience for all the children. It is the fourth time that the school have taken part is in the programme and we hope to continue to do so into the future.”

The children were also lucky enough to take part in a craft workshop to make renewable energy artwork that works using the energy from the sun. The Cyanotype session was run by Chloe Uden and Naomi Wright from Art and Energy Collective. They are the inspiration and driving force behind the Moths to a Flame movement that is turning calls for urgent action on the Climate Emergency into a magnificent mass-participation art installation at COP26 in Glasgow this year, using the moth as a metaphor for our relationship with energy. They are inviting everyone to help make 20,000 moths and record messages for COP26 delegates, which will be exhibited at the Glasgow Botanical Garden during the COP26 and then in Plymouth. TRESOC will be running community moth making events in the summer.

Turning Problems Into Solutions

TRESOC is proud to have supported CISTAfrica’s Clean Cooking Kenya project by loaning them our MD Ian Bright. The project is turning an invasive plant – water hyacinth – from something choking its waterways into clean fuel; bioethanol. This reduces the use of wood and charcoal for cooking, which improves air quality and biodiversity and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Even the byproducts are beneficial – check out the video to find out more.

Ian spent the first couple of months of 2021 in Kenya consulting with the project organisers on how to make the fuel at scale. This film is one of the outcomes.

AGM 2020

We are pleased to invite you to our Annual General Meeting at 7.00 p.m. on Wednesday 4th November 2020. This year we will be holding the AGM online and are delighted that wondermentalist poet Matt Harvey has agreed to be our guest speaker.

Members, friends and the public are welcome to attend, ask questions and help us develop our strategy for the year ahead – we’d like to welcome all of you!  Our goal – as always – is that you are aligned with, and endorse, the efforts we are making on your behalf.

The Directors’ Report and a summary of our latest Accounts to 31st March 2020 will be sent out to members by October 8th. A signed copy of the accounts has been submitted to the Financial Services Authority, and you can see them using the link below. In order to attend, email admin@tresoc.co.uk to register and receive the link.

If you are a member and are unable to attend, it is VITAL you arrange a Proxy Vote. The Rules of TRESOC require 10% of members to vote at the AGM and, with 560 members, every vote counts. Please download and sign the Proxy Voting Form and put through the door at – or post to – TRESOC, 107 High Street, Totnes, TQ9 5SN, or scan and email to admin@tresoc.co.uk.

 

Operations Manager Sally Murrall-Smith interview on Soundart Radio

Sally was interviewed on the Full Totnes Breakfast Radio Show on Soundart Radio on Friday September 18th: you can listen to it here. Sally talks about existing projects as well as those in development: the proposed solar PV installation at Transition Homes’ eco-social housing development at Clay Park in Dartington, and the possibility of creating an Energy Local Club. The interview starts 12 mins 40secs in if you don’t want to listen to the whole show.

MD Ian Bright on Soundart Radio

In August, Ian was interviewed by the hosts of the On The Land And Water Radio Show, a new magazine programme on local station Soundart Radio with an interest in, you guessed it, land and water. He was talking about the Archimedes Screw at the weir on the River Dart, as well as possible new projects. Some of the interview will be broadcast in subsequent shows, but the bulk of the conversation is available to listen to here. Ian starts 55mins in, but the rest of the show is well worth a listen. (There is a scrollbar at the bottom of the screen that can take you straight to Ian.)

Public Consultation Events for Clay Park Feasibility Study

This September and October, Totnes Renewable Energy Society (TRESOC) and Transition Homes Community Land Trust (THCLT) will be holding a series of free public events.  These will be part of TRESOC’s feasibility study into the development of a solar photovoltaic (PV) array plus on-site battery storage and electric vehicle charging points at THCLT’s 31-home Clay Park development. Please note the Focus Groups are for people interested in becoming residents of Clay Park only – if this is you contact info@transitionhomes.org.uk. To register for events, please email Sally on admin@tresoc.co.uk.

 

TRESOC Appoints New Legal Director/Company Secretary

We are delighted to have appointed a new Legal Director and Company Secretary, ratified by the board at our June meeting. Stephanie Burns is a fully qualified solicitor with an impressive CV and nearly 20 years of experience in legal and front office positions in financial institutions in the City of London. She is currently studying for an environmental investment qualification awarded by the CFA Society – the Certificate in ESG Investing – and has set up her own company to pursue a longtime interest in ethical investment. We feel she will be a good fit, and fills out our Board of Directors nicely. Of her appointment, Stephanie says, ‘I was introduced to the concept of sustainable environmental development when working for a Japanese company developing a hotel business in the Micronesian islands. I have a particular interest in responsible investment and embedding strong environmental, social and governance principles into investment decisions and day to day work and am delighted to be able to complement this focus with a hands-on role in the community renewable energy industry.’

Although Stephanie lives in Richmond with her family, she has happy memories of trips to Devon and is looking forward to more to Totnes.

We are sad to say goodbye to Owen Hill, who has been with us since 2010. We are very grateful to him for all that we have achieved together.

TRESOC Wins RCEF Grant for Clay Park Feasibility Study #HarnessOurPower

As it is Community Energy Fortnight, we are delighted to announce that residents at Transition Homes’ housing development at Clay Park in Dartington could benefit from their own supply of affordable green energy, thanks to funding awarded by the South West Energy Hub in partnership with the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.

Working with Transition Homes Community Land Trust (THCLT), TRESOC has been awarded a Rural Community Energy Fund grant of almost £30,000.  The funding will be used to carry out a feasibility study into the development of a solar photovoltaic (PV) array plus on-site battery storage and electric vehicle charging points at the 31-home Clay Park development.

If the study proves successful, a micro-grid will be set up to supply the site, taking renewable solar energy direct to residents at a below-market rate.  It is estimated that the PV array could generate 180,000 kWh of energy, worth nearly £30,000 a year*, on which residents will save approximately 10%.  As well as improving local energy resilience, this would save an estimated 45 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere annually.

Karl Tucker, Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership said: “Our vision is to create a dynamic, highly prosperous region with high living standards and an outstanding quality of life, and clean energy is an important theme running through our activity, so I’m pleased that the South West Energy Hub has awarded this feasibility grant.

“The scheme could not only help to improve quality of life for local people on lower incomes, but also make an important contribution to tackling the climate emergency. We look forward to hearing the results of the study.”

Sally Murrall-Smith, TRESOC’s Operations Manager said, “The grant, worth £29,156, will be used to evaluate the economic viability of the scheme, design the system, determine the best technology mix, and cover organisational and legal costs, community engagement and project management.”

“We’re delighted that TRESOC has been successful with this grant bid, and we are looking forward to working with them,” added THCLT Project Coordinator Nicola Lang. “Delivering the PV array and micro-grid system will help us to reduce the environmental impact of the homes at Clay Park while making it more affordable for residents and supporting the local economy.”

THCLT has planning permission for 31 highly energy-efficient eco-homes at the progressive Clay Park development in Dartington, offering a choice of affordable rent or shared ownership for local people in housing need. It has invited TRESOC to become the energy supplier, and to own and operate the system.

TRESOC intends to raise the capital to install the solar PV panels, microgrid, and operating system, estimated to cost £180,000, through a community share-offer. Clay Park residents will be able to purchase shares in the scheme if they so wish. Interest from the income to TRESOC will be distributed to local shareholders, strengthening the local economy, while boosting employment via local procurement rules. TRESOC will also develop an ongoing renewable energy education programme in partnership with local schools and Clay Park residents.

The feasibility grant was provided by the Rural Community Energy Fund, a government scheme administered by the South West Energy Hub in partnership with Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership. Jon Rattenbury, Programme Manager for the South West Energy Hub said: “This innovative scheme is a great example of how developing local green energy can bring a wide range of economic and community benefits at the same time as helping tackle the climate emergency. We are really pleased to be able to award this grant funding to TRESOC and hope that other local communities will be inspired to follow their example.”

Part of the funding has been allocated to a community engagement programme to run alongside the study. This will comprise:

  • Four Walk & Talk (site visits) during the first week in September, exploring the site and giving an opportunity to ask questions in an informal manner. These will be open to general public and be timetabled at weekends and during weekdays to make it easier for people to attend. Children welcome and there will be child-friendly activities on site so parents can give their attention to the tour
  • Focus groups in mid-September. For people interested in living at Clay Park
  • An evening talk at the end of September outlining the results of the study so far. This will be open to the general public

If you are interested in attending any of the events, please register your interest by emailing admin@tresoc.co.uk.

Addendum: Sally, our Operations Manager, was interviewed about the Clay Park grant on BBC Radio Devon on 24.06.20. You can listen to the broadcast here.