Blog article

Creating the world's biggest solar co-operative - the story of Westmill Solar

Some challenges can seem too huge to face. How can we beat climate change when fossil fuels have 100 years head start? How can we pay for renewables when the cost of living is always on the up? How can an individual be part of a clean energy transition that needs action all around the world?

At Westmill, community co-operation is the answer. In 2011, the UK’s first community-owned solar farm was set up, bringing over 1,500 people together to create what was then the world’s largest solar co-operative.

For 20 years, Westmill Solar Co-operative will be generating enough clean, green energy for 1,600 homes, saving 2,000 tonnes of carbon a year. The vast majority of those involved are local, first-time investors - and working together has peovided the confidence and community spirit to take action and collectively invest in the future.

"Knowing I’m part of the co-operative community that built and benefits from our renewable energy gives me hope for the future." Richard Benwell, Westmill Solar Co-operative member

But the co-op's members are not content to sit in the sunshine and let the panels work. They are part of an ongoing movement to support our community and clean energy. So, Westmill Solar welcomed 10,000 visitors to the site, has supported other cooperatives in their own clean energy action, and is sharing the benefits of Westmill energy with local people.

Richard Benwell is a member of Westmill Solar Co-op member. He said: "While world leaders dither and doubt, local communities can lead the way. Renewable energy co-operatives can power a clean, green energy revolution from the bottom up, supporting biodiversity and our local economy along the way.

"I can see Westmill from my window. Knowing I’m part of the co-operative community that built and benefits from our renewable energy gives me hope for the future."

Discover more about Westmill Solar Co-operative here.


Share your story of co-operation or read others by using #coopstories on social media.

Written by Dominic Mills
Updated: 16/06/2017