Chelworth is WWCE’s first community-owned solar installation: a 1MW ground mounted solar PV array located at Chelworth Industrial Estate, adjacent to Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s Blakehill Nature reserve. The total investment needed for building the array was £1.2 M; £650,000 were raised via a public share offer and the rest via a bank loan.
Work began in the spring of 2014, with the arrays plugged in by June the same year. The average amount of electricity generated is equivalent to that needed to supply 450+ homes, a huge saving in carbon dioxide.
The area is now all set to become a flourishing wild flower meadow. We are working closely with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust to manage the site as an exemplar of how solar arrays can enhance biodiversity. We are in the process of creating new wildflower meadows underneath the solar arrays, helping to replace some of the 97% of hay meadows that have been lost since the 1930s.
The site is also home to the endangered Great Crested Newt and a pond was dug during the installation to further encourage their numbers. Butterflies, damsel flies, bees, rabbits and roe deer have also been spotted in the array.
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