Focus Magazines The local magazines for Abergavenny, Crickhowell, Brecon & Talgarth – Events, News and Advertising
Did you know that an average house can harvest as much electricity as it uses in a year from solar (PV) panels on its roof? Did you also know that PV panels are now almost the cheapest way of generating electricity? – Cheaper almost unit for unit than building a new gas or coal power station.

With panels now so cheap (panels that in 2008 would have cost £600 each now cost only £100) return on investment is better than you will find at any building society, even with the reduction in government feed in tariff.

Many homeowners with available cash have realised this. Housing Associations have also not been slow and covered the roofs of their housing stock. However, this leaves many harvesting opportunities unfulfilled, either due lack of knowledge by the owner or, more likely, lack of cash or credit.

Into this vacuum steps community energy companies. Being owned by their local members and regulated by very strict Community Interest Company (CIC) and Cooperative rules, community companies can win the trust of the local market, as mainly; they are the local market themselves. This community interest includes energy saving, tackling local fuel poverty, generating local employment and mitigating climate change. In Germany where community scale renewable energy is already more developed, there over 800 such community energy companies.

solarAbergavenny Energy CIC is our community energy company. Its main purpose is to identify energy saving and harvesting opportunities that the property owner is not able to take advantage of, and then raise funds in the form of local share issues to fulfil the potential of those opportunities.

The first such opportunity for Abergavenny Energy CIC was a PV array on an agricultural roof. The farmer did not have the £6000 to pay for PV panels on his South facing roof, so Abergavenny Energy CIC organised loans from local individuals and project managed the installation. In return these investors get a fixed rate of interest paid for by the energy harvested and the farm gets rent and some free electricity while the sun shines.

The company has also introduced the national Close the Door campaign to Abergavenny, encouraging shops to keep their doors closed to save energy and reduce fuel bills.

Abergavenny Energy now has its eyes set on much bigger schemes, with agricultural barn roofs being particularly interesting. We are also well along the road to developing local micro hydro projects. The aim is to leave no local renewable energy generating opportunity unexploited. Every unit of energy harvested locally is a unit less imported from the non-local economy.

As our national grid gets smarter, Abergavenny energy may eventually be able to trade nationally both selling excess power to the rest of the UK and maybe controlling demand from the grid by using small scale local energy storage. If we can store the local energy we harvest in the day while the sun is shining, we may not need to import expensive non-local coal/gas/nuclear energy in the evening. And then if there is any left, we may even be able to sell it back – for a tidy local profit of course!

If you think there may be potential to harvest renewable energy from your property, or would like to invest in local energy projects, please contact Abergavenny Energy CIC at


Steven Harris – Director, Abergavenny Energy CIC

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