Lewes-based company Ovesco has been chosen to help other community groups in Sussex develop their own solutions to the growing climate change threat.
In the wettest winter since records began, 15 communities – many of them Transition Towns (which appropriately met to form an umbrella group last September) – are participating in a scheme funded by the Community Energy Peer Mentoring Fund (CEPM).
Ovesco has secured £50,000 with West Sussex County Council providing match funding as part of the Sussex Energy Saving Partnership (SESP). The money will be used to help set up new non-profit energy co-operatives. Ovesco’s pioneer work in this area is the reason why the company was chosen to lead the project.
Set up in 2007, Ovesco has a sizeable and growing portfolio of solar energy installations in Lewes District funded by investment from local people, including Harveys Brewery, schools and small businesses.
Managing Director Chris Rowland said: “At Ovesco we did it the hard way, finding out for ourselves what works and what doesn’t, making mistakes and correcting them.
“Now we are delighted to have the chance to pass on what we have learned to other communities, so they can develop their own projects. It’s wonderful to be entrusted with the important task of spreading the skills needed for community renewable energy. This feels like the beginning of something really big, really important.”
Despite the impression caused by current weather conditions, Sussex gets a daily average of five hours of sunshine, so it makes sense to focus on solar photo-voltaic projects which turn sunlight into electricity.
Ovesco recently received a funding award from the Rural Communities Energy Fund (RCEF) for feasibility studies, planning costs and environmental permissions.
The money comes from the Government departments for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).