GEN News

Colchester Community Solar press release.

Our new project "Colchester Community Solar Farm" is launched today - 16th April 2015.

Minutes of the 2014 AGM and Accounts.

Minutes of the 2013 AGM, Accounts.

Minutes of the 2012 AGM.

GEN coverage in the Guardian - 30th Oct 2012

Our installation at Ferrier's Barn was completed ahead of the 1st Aug 2012 FiT review but unfortunately we were not able to proceed with the Bures Primary School project.

GEN was named the best Community Energy Project 2011 at Suffolk - Greenest County awards last night.

GEN members met with Jenny Willis from Co-operatives UK to assist with the writing of a report on Community Energy. The final report has just been issued - click here to read it.

GEN was named winner of the Environmental Awareness award at the Colchester Business Awards on Friday night. Will and Simon were there to collect the award.

Our "How we did it" guide, which might be useful to other groups looking to set up a similar community energy enterprise, can be found on the FAQ page.


Nayland Primary School

Live Generation Stats - Sunny Portal

Opening Ceremony

Ferrier's Barn Day Centre

Ferriers Sunny Portal



What is the projected financial return on the project?

You are welcome to downloaded our finance model on the condition that it is taken as a guide and that you must verify all assumptions for your own site.

Can you please explain how GEN was formed?

We have produced a guide that describes the steps that were taken to form GEN. We make it available to help other organisations that wish to follow in our footsteps or as a reference for anyone seeking to do something similar. Obviously we can not take any responsibility for decisions made based on our own experience as every set of circumstance are unique.

How much electricity has GEN generated so far?

You can see update to date statistics recording our generation history on Sunny Portal.

How did you attract investors?

We inserted an number of advertisments into local magazines inviting local people to attend one of two public meetings. We showed a presentation outlining our proposal and answered questions. We also used our links with other community organisations and friends to attract prospective members.

I have heard that Feed in Tariffs may be reviewed sooner than originally planned – how might this affect GEN?

Once the Feed in Tariff agreement is in place for GEN it is legally binding for 25 years. The government might change the plans for writing new agreements but are far less likely to cancel agreements that are already operational.

What other similar schemes exist?

Settle Hydro and Hockerton Wind Turbine were financed in a very similar way. There are many organisations planning to take advantage of Feed in Tariffs, some on a very large scale.

What does the school get out of this?

The solution will include a display in the entrance hall that will allow the children to see how much electricity is being generated at all times.

This will form the basis of a whole series of lesson plans ranging from the basics of renewable energy, the concepts of the climate change effects through to the economics.

In addition the school’s electricity bill will be significantly reduced. This money remains within the school to be used on other educational projects.

Is this a one off project?

No, we are looking at other buildings in the village that might be suitable for future projects. These will be funded through a future round of share offering.

What happens if the amount of electricity generated is lower than expected?

Our income is based on the amount of electricity generated so our interest payments will be lower than expected. However we have applied conservative estimates to our plan.

What happens if the system suffers from a mechanical failure?

Solar PV is a very low maintenance technology, however, we will take out a maintenance contract with the supplier to repair any failed parts. In this unlikely event, our income might suffer while the system is repaired.

In the event of a serious problem at the school, such as a fire, we might have a long period without income but the system itself will be covered by the school’s buildings insurance.

When can I get my money back?

You will not be able to recoup your investment in the first 3 years.

After that you can apply to cash out your investment, which is known as Withdrawl. The Directors can only allow withdrawls if the finances of the society are healthy enough to do and there is no absolute guarantee of getting your money back. However since our income is reasonable secure we expect everyone will be repaid their investment as well as annual interest.

Don’t solar panels take more energy to produce than they generate?

No, this is not true. Research has shown that the system will generate more energy than was used in its construction within 4 years.

It’s always raining in the UK – are solar panels really effective?

Solar panels don’t need full sun light to produce electricity. Real sunshine data for this area has been used in the calculations for our project, which clearly shows the viability of the technology.

What happens if the panels are covered in snow?

The panels will be installed at an angle which enables them to be self cleaning. If snow is heavy, it will collect on the panels and reduce the electricity they produce. The days on which we get snow are typically very short days and will provide little impact to the total annual generation.

What happens if the school want to remove the panels in the years ahead?

A roof lease between GEN and the school will be put in place at the time of install to prevent this from happening.

What happens when the school is closed?

When the school is closed the amount of electricity used on site will be much lower and most will be exported to the national grid. The school will earn credits from the electricity supplier for every unit exported.

Is GEN only going to operate in Nayland?

Initially GEN is focused on the community of Nayland, however we are open minded as to where it could lead in the long term.

What is an IPS?

Its an Industrial & Provident Society see link for further details.

What’s in this for the Directors?

The same as for all other investors plus the excitement and experience of founding a pioneering and important project.