14 April

The community benefits of co-location

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There are many benefits to co-locating large scale renewable energy projects that include providing opportunities for neighbouring residents.

The community benefits of co-location

There are many benefits to co-locating large scale renewable energy projects. Not only does this optimise the site with a sustainable and fully versed infrastructure, but it also relieves the strain on the energy grid, whilst providing opportunities for neighbouring residents and people too.

How does our co-location approach support communities?

When analysing the success of our projects, we have identified the individual benefits that co-locating has on local communities. For example, within our Highfields Energy Park project:

This will maximise opportunities for biodiversity with an enhancement delivering and net gain of more than 85%.

There will be a 55% net gain for hedgerow units.

The solar farm will have an installed capacity of 52MWp, which is the equivalent to the electricity usage of approximately 17,700 UK homes.

Our community fund

We have also considered how we can connect with our local communities too. As part of this, an allocated fund has been put in place to be spent annually on supporting the surrounding communities of our energy projects. This fund will be invested into local initiatives, projects or people, and is our way of giving back to the area, and keeping a line of communication and togetherness throughout. For example, offering a small-scale, one-off investment such as sponsoring a local football team, or a larger renovation project to repair communal facilities. We hope that this will help to build the community and sustain it from a social standpoint, as well as environmentally. This fund will be managed by an independent external body, delivered in partnership with local communities. Local people are able to advise on the fund strategy, having their say on how it is spent, so it is prioritised based on the issues that are in most need of being supported. We are open to suggestions on community benefit initiatives, and fully appreciate new ideas and considerations. Some of these include:

• Looking at how to reduce energy bills for local residents.

• Upgrading to fibre provision for local residents.

• Upgrading to local public rights of way.

• Working with local schools to accommodate educational site visits.

• Provision of funds towards the installation of local electric vehicle charging points.

• Identify opportunities for community food growing/horticulture close to the site.

The co-location benefits within our Normanton Energy Reserve project

Our Normanton Energy Reserve project has extensive benefits relating to local communities too. The project will maximise opportunities for biodiversity enhancement, delivering a total net gain of more than 44%. The Net gain for hedgerow units in comparison to the existing situation will increase by 37%. We have fully taken into consideration how the project will benefit the local community and consulted this with the public too. This includes:

• Expanding Normanton Millennium Wood.

• Introducing permissive path through our new wooded area, linking it with the paths through Normanton Millennium Wood.

• Utilising the open space in the west as wildflower grassland and provide the land for local beekeepers.

The Environmental Act recommends a 10% increase for projects like ours, and we are committed to supporting our communities along the way, maximising the opportunity to connect with local residents and support landowners throughout the process of developing our energy projects.

Do you have a question about co-location? Tweet us your thoughts @ExagenG and stay up to date with further news, visit us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and TikTok.