A community solar project in Market Harborough which was launched in October will now not go ahead, despite strong public support and local investment. The Harborough Solar One scheme would have involved the installation of more than 600 solar panels at the Robert Smyth Academy on Burnmill Road and Archway Health Hub on Lubenham Hill. The 160kW installation would have produced an output of over 142,000 kWh each year. However, due in part to the introduction of Government cuts that will come into force in the New Year, Harborough Solar One, amongst other proposed PV installations across the UK, will not now go ahead. The project was put together by Harborough Energy, a not for profit energy co-operative, with support from local volunteers and Sustainable Harborough. Since the announcement of Government cuts, Harborough Energy has been racing against time to ensure that the community energy installation at Robert Smyth Academy secured the higher rate tariff. This would have ensured the viability of the scheme, but with the remaining obstacles, the deadline cannot be met. “Unfortunately the Academy’s Board of Governors was unable to secure the approval of the Education Funding Agency for the project to proceed,” explained Peter Jones OBE, Director of Harborough Energy. “We are bitterly disappointed that such an exciting project has had to be curtailed at such a late date.  However, we remain committed to our overarching aim of providing affordable, clean energy to Market Harborough, giving the community more control over its future energy costs and surety of supply”.

Mr Jones also stated that Harborough Energy would seek another project to develop with the investment secured, but failing that, anyone who had invested in the scheme would be reimbursed. He said “We would like to reassure all those who invested in the community share offer in November that their money will either be used for a similar local project or be returned to them in full.

“The school was set to reduce their energy bills by at least £85,000 over a 20 year period. We would love to hear from any other local business or schools who are interested in similar savings. There is now an opportunity for a local organisation to become involved in a major renewable project. But they will need to get in touch quickly if they are interested,” he adds.

The Harborough Solar One project was well supported by the community, raising an investment of £188,800 from local residents and businesses. Investors have been informed of the decision and have been given the option to withdraw their capital.

Alec Welton, owner of Archway Health hub, the other proposed site expressed his regret that the scheme was no longer going ahead.

“This was a really positive step for the town and a great blueprint for other renewable energy projects. Harborough Energy had a fantastic vision and worked really hard to get the scheme off the ground. It is a real shame that the opportunity has been lost.”

Harborough Energy would like to hear from any businesses or schools who would be interested in hosting a community energy scheme immediately or in the future – anyone interested should contact info@harboroughenergy.co.uk