Introducing Southill Solar
Southill Solar is our community-owned solar farm. In operation since November 2016, it generates enough green energy to power 1,100 homes – most of the homes in Charlbury, Finstock & Fawler - for 25 years.
Solar energy is a tried and tested way of producing electricity, replacing gas, coal and oil. It helps cut carbon emissions and is helping slow down the rate of climate change.
That’s why there are now dozens of community solar farms , and thousands of solar installations, operating across the UK.
Southill will produce green energy for 25 years. We're selling the energy we produce back to the grid during that time. Then, at the end of the Southill's life, we will dismantle the solar panels, recycle everything we can and return the land to its original agricultural state.
Community energy in action
Southill Solar was a community project right from the start.
It was funded by a mix of community investment - a share offer which raised £1.1m in 2016 - as well private investment including loans from ethical banks and other organisations, totalling £3.4m.
Some of that debt was offered back to the community in 2018 as bonds. The successful bond offer now pays a fixed annual return to bondholders and has reduced SCE’s annual operating costs.
Profits from Southill Solar will be invested back into the local area through the community benefit society. Forecasts show that we will have on average £30,000 a year to invest locally.
Through a programme of grants, we use these funds to invest to support local low-carbon initiatives in the community.
How we minimised the visual impact
The Southill Solar team worked hard in the planning stage to minimise the visual impact of the solar panels. Our first plans showed that the farm would be too visible from the road, so we changed those and reduced the area. It now lies in a fold of land, low down in the fields.
Our innovative ‘Bring Your Brolly Day' – for which our landscape architect Charlie Clews won a national award – showed that the visual impact was much less, and the county council gave us planning permission.
“I love that this work raised awareness of the role of the landscape architect with the community, who now see the value of what we do. And it was also great fun!”
Noel Farrer, President of the Landscape Institute