Bees come to Southill Solar

Southill Solar installs the UK’s first thermosolar beehive – which uses sunlight to protect bees against the Varroa mite.

On Sat 3 June, Southill Solar is proud to welcome our new resident colony of bees. The bees are an important part of our biodiversity plans. We’re using wildflower meadows and seed-rich planting to make the Southill Solar site a haven for all manner of birds, insects and mammals.

What’s more, Southill Solar’s bees will live in a thermosolar beehive – the first one to be installed in the UK.

The buzz about the thermosolar hive

The thermosolar hive uses solar power to kill parasitic Varroa mites.

It works by raising the temperature of the hive’s brood nest to 47 degrees C. At this temperature, the mites are killed off but the bees remain unharmed.

This is a step-change in the way that beekeepers can treat their bees against the Varroa mite – without using chemicals, pesticides or harming the bees.

Bees need all the help they can get

Tom Worlsey, Southill Solar’s new beekeeper, says, ““Right now, more than ever, bees need our help to survive. What is good for the bees, is good for all of us”.

Our bee populations are under constant attack from parasites, disease, and agricultural pesticides. The Varroa mite is an endemic parasite present in all bee colonies. Varroa transmit many of the diseases that affect the health of our bees.

Until now, beekeepers have used a variety of pesticides or chemical treatments to try and kill off the parasites. However none of these treatments are 100% effective, and none are particularly kind to the bees. The treatments often kill off many of the bees, as well as the mites. Varroa mites have developed resistance to many of the treatments, and the chemicals used can also contaminate the honey if not applied correctly.

The thermosolar hive has the potential to do great good.

What’s next for Southill Solar’s bees?

Tom thinks the hive will produce about 15-20 kg of honey in its first season, and maybe double that in future years.

So watch this space for some wonderful, community-owned, solar-powered, ethical AND pioneering honey to spread on your toast.

Come and meet Tom!  He will be at Charlbury’s Riverside Festival (29 and 30 July) to talk about Southill Solar’s hives, and bees in general. Come down and say hello to Tom and the Southill Solar team there.

 

Southill Solar site open day

Southill Community Energy directors Tim Crisp, Als Parker and Chris Barras are delighted to invite SCE members to join them on the Parish Boundary Walk to the Southill Solar site.

Showing off Southill Solar

This will be an exciting opportunity to visit the solar farm and learn more about recent developments and the workings of the solar site. You will:

  • hear about the the biodiversity and landscape management plans for the site and see the young apple orchard trees recently planted
  • view the UK's first Thermosolar hive, helping eradicate the Varroa mite, currently being installed
  • learn about the performance of the solar panel arrays so far and see how renewable energy generation works in action...

Mind where you put your feet!

The site is being established as a conservation area for ground nesting birds such as skylarks so we will need to take care not to disturb habitats.

Timings, where to meet us and what the walk's like

The Parish Boundary walk is on Sunday 21st May. Come along and meet us on Cornbury Bridge at 10 am. You are welcome to bring a picnic and stay on site until 2.00pm.

The walk from Cornbury Bridge to the site takes approximately an hour.

The Parish Boundary Walk is not an established footpath and unfortunately not suitable for buggies. Please wear sturdy footwear!

The Southill Solar team looks forward to welcoming you on the walk and then on site.

Southill solar is generating green power!

With great excitement Southill Solar was switched on this Friday 11th November, generating the first kilowatts of carbon free renewable energy.

The first metered kW of generated clean green community energy.

The first metered kW of generated clean green community energy.

 

  • The Southill Solar installation, built by Solarcentury, has a capacity of 4.5MW, enough electricity to supply 1,100 homes with electricity for the next 25 years
  • As well as generating energy, Southill will deliver over £750,000 of community benefits through a system of grants in order to help fund low carbon initiatives 
  • Environmental and biodiversity benefits will be a feature of the SouthillSolar site - further planting starts in December to give new habitats for wildlife and wildflower meadows

It's all down to you!

Everyone who invested time, energy and money as members of Southill Community Energy - this is your achievement, and we thank you. We're one small step closer to winning the war on climate change.

Join us to celebrate this moment

Join us to mark the commissioning of the Southill Solar farm with Jeremy Leggett, founder of Solarcentury and author of 'Winning the Carbon War'.

Jeremy will give his talk on energy and climate change and discussing what is being done post the Paris Climate Change Agreement. Jeremy commented:

Now, more than ever, the world needs the spirit, leadership example, and actual emissions reductions that community energy projects like this embody. The US, and to an extent the UK, are stepping towards fossil fuels and away from clean energy, just as the majority of other national governments, many local governments, and thousands of communities the world over are going the other way. I thank everyone involved, and hope Charlbury will enjoy its candle for hope as much as I will."

We look forward to seeing you on the 17th November - here are the details.

Celebrate the launch of Southill Solar!

Southill Solar is under construction and we anticipate it will be commissioned and generating electricity by mid-November.

All the trenching, cabling and framing has been completed. The inverters are all in place and connected, as are 90% of the panels. 

As the picture above shows, the panels take up less than 50% of the solar farm site and the first phase of the planting to provide further screening will take place in early December. Our community solar farm will generate 4.56MW of carbon-free solar energy to meet the needs of our community - a real reason to celebrate!

Southill Solar launch event with Jeremy Leggett

We’re planning an event to celebrate our launch – 7.30pm on 17 Nov in the Memorial Hall in Charlbury.

As well as updating you on our progress, we’re delighted to have guest speaker Jeremy Legget. Jeremy is a globally-renowned commentator in the field, and he’ll give us his take on our energy and climate change future.  Are we doing enough?  Are we doing it fast enough?  What’s going on because of – and beyond – the Climate Change Agreement signed in Paris in November last year?

Come and join us!

We do hope that you can come and listen to Jeremy and look forward to seeing you on the 17th.