Earth Notes: Kingston Community Energy (2024)

Updated 2024-02-26.
Turning Kingston into a solar energy suntrap, part 2! #community #microgen #NetZero
Building a decent chunk of solar PV microgeneration on community buildings in the Royal Borough of Kingston to save carbon and money!


As of the turn of 2024, Kingston Environment Forum and Royal Borough of Kingston (RBL) Council's Climate Action Team are working together to reboot community solar in Kingston, including a target of ~1MWp on the 60+ schools in the borough.

2023: Talks about Talks

Through 2023, with the encouragement of various groups including Transition Town Kingston Energy Group (TTK-EG) and the Council's Climate Action Team (CAT), a Kingston Environment Forum Solar Subgroup (KEFSS) was formed including the voices of various environmental groups.

Initial talks were held with Energy4All (E4All) and Repowering London (RL) as possible partners to help get solar PV installed at reasonable scale. Both organisations have a good track record. Several members of KEFSS already have investments with RL schemes. E4All also came and gave a presentation at the KEF at the Council HQ, in the presence of the Council CEO and the councillor with the appropriate portfolio.

2024-02: E4All

After some more internal discussion, another meeting with E4All at the start of the month confirmed that we were starting the process with them, via their Schools' Energy Co-operative (SEC) structure. That means that we do not need to set up new legal structures for now, and can start relatively gently, but if we exceed somewhere round 1MWp of installed PV we could bud out into a separate legal body.

The deal for the schools is that they do not pay anything up front, and any electricity that is used from the PV on its roof is bought for a kWh unit price fixed at the start then going up with RPI, significantly below grid supply prices right at the start. The agreement lasts for ~25 years. SEC looks after paperwork, installation and maintenance.

Also early in the month we started discussions with the first interested school in the borough.

There are ~60 schools in the borough, though many are not managed by the local authority. Carbon savings from schools are therefore currently assumed to apply to the borough-wide 2038 net zero target, rather than RBK Council's 2030 operational net zero target.

(Nerd note: E4A/SEC plans on the basis of ~40kWp per primary school roof, so our initial 1MWp-on-schools target may be too low...)

2024-02-26: Progress

The first school is talking to KEFSS about PV, and KEFSS is meeting RBK's Property department tomorrow (virtually) to help get it comfortable with converting rooftops in their bailiwick!