A Brief History

WREN was founded in 2011 by a group of Wadebridge people wanting to do more for their town, who envisaged renewable energy as a community asset, enabling much more of the energy spend of the town to remain in the area, rather than transferring up country and overseas to the big energy suppliers. We set a target of creating community ownership of enough renewable energy production to supply 50% of Wadebridge’s energy needs by 2015 and 100% by 2020. Sadly, we were not able to achieve those targets, as the electricity grid and network in Cornwall became full, making grid connection impossibly expensive. This put an end to our plans for a Megawatt-scale solar farm.

Nevertheless, we were able to build a 100kW solar farm at Nanstallon with a power purchase agreement to supply all its production to the neighbouring South West Water sewage works. We also procured or influenced the installation of solar PV, wind and renewable heat and enabled many households to take advantage of government funding for home insulation. (click here). This was largely achieved by opening the Energy Shop on The Platt, one of Wadebridge’s main shopping streets, which became a focus for advice and assistance to residents. A BBC report of May 2015 lauded Wadebridge as ‘the town where one in ten have opted for solar power’ (click here).

We initiated and carried through the Sunshine Tariff project with Western Power Distribution (the local network operator), pioneering time-of-use tariffs to influence electricity demand (click here).

Government support for renewables diminished and disappeared as we completed that project, removing opportunities for community renewable projects. WREN decided to reduce its scope of operations, cutting costs to a minimum to conserve its own funds whilst looking for new opportunities. Sadly, this included shutting The Energy Shop in 2016.

For about three years we focussed on administering the community funds contributed by St Breock wind farm and Middle Treworder solar farm, distributing £60,000 - £70,000 per year to local voluntary and not-for-profit organisations in the community. This activity continues, and in 2020 included a ‘rapid response’ fund for organisations providing services in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, or who had been financially impacted as a direct result of the pandemic.

In 2019, we began a new project, Energy Equality, funded by RCEF, the Rural Community Energy Fund, to investigate the feasibility of peer-to-peer trading as a means of using community energy to encourage further investment in rooftop solar PV and at the same contribute to alleviating fuel poverty. We also began taking a more active interest and role in promoting electric vehicles and the provision of public charging points for them.


This is how others have reported WREN over the years:


Sunshine Tariff

The Sunshine Tariff from WREN in association with Tempus Energy, Western Power Distribution and Regen SW has attracted much media attention since it began in January 2016.

26-Jan-16, BBC Radio Cornwall, Laurence Reed
Sara Bell, CEO of Tempus Energy interviewed [Starts at 1 hour 38 minutes into the programme. Available to listen to until 24 February 2016]

26-Jan-16, Business Green

26th January 2016, Energy Live News

24th January 2016, Cornish Guardian

22nd January 2016, Western Morning News

22nd January 2016, BBC Spotlight (6.30pm) Story by Scott Bingham - no longer available on BBC iPlayer

13th January 2016, Western Morning News

7th January 2016, Cornish Guardian

Cornwall experiments with 'sunshine tariff' as possible alternative for UK solar

A grassroots project in Cornwall, England, is examining ways to implement a special, so-called "sunshine tariff." The project, although small in scale, could provide the template for the solar business models of the new era of zero subsidies.

Source: PV-Magazine.com, 16th October 2015

The renewable village

Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (Wren) have big plans for their town - 100% energy self sufficiency!

Ambitious, sure, but they're doing pretty well already, with over 100 solar installs, 60 renewable heat systems and 160 home insulations under their belts.

Source: Keep FITs website, 15th October 2015

The town where one in ten have opted for solar power

Even before she got behind her desk in Whitehall, Amber Rudd, the new energy secretary, was promising to "unleash a new solar revolution".
A million people now live in homes with solar panels on the roof, and she says that number needs to increase further.
Yet the residents of one small town in Cornwall need no extra persuasion.
Around 500 houses in Wadebridge on the Camel estuary already have panels on their roofs - nearly 10% of homes in the area - making the town a contender for the solar power 'capital' of the UK.

Source: BBC, 22nd May 2015

WREN – A Community Energy Town In The Making

Residents of the Cornish town of Wadebridge are pioneering a community initiative that could become a model for the county and beyond.

Source: Engerati, the smart energy network, 30th October 2014

Solar farm near Wadebridge gives £10,000 to local community groups

The Middle Treworder solar farm has awarded £10,000 to eight community groups in the Wadebridge area.

The top three awards went to the Skateboard and BMX Park project (£5,000), Wadebridge Swimming Club to train more coaches (£2,400) and St Kew Highway Football Club for a ride-on mower to improve the quality of pitches (£1,000).

Source: Cornish Guardian On-line, 11th October 2014

Energy firm to be set up in Wadebridge

WADEBRIDGE will have its own electricity generating company for the first time in almost 90 years.

The Wadebridge Energy Company will be owned by local people through a community share issue, taking the town "back to the future" with local electricity generation.

Source: Cornish Guardian, 1st October 2014

Town’s new money

Source: Cornish Guardian, 6th August 2014

Power of superfast broadband

Source: Cornish Guardian, 23rd July 2014

Pupils design new currency

Source: Cornish Guardian, 2nd July 2014

Solar farm Section 106 cash available to groups

Source: Cornish Guardian, 2nd July 2014

Renewable energy could cut energy bills – but the government must help

Source: The Guardian, article by Andy Atkins, Executive Director, Friends of the Earth
Date: 15th April 2014

Community energy schemes: what's holding local people back?

Source: The Guardian
Date: 3rd March 2014

Cornish town plans to restore its energy self-sufficiency by 2020

Source: The Guardian
Date: 25th February 2014

Energy Minister Visits WREN

Source: Cornish Guardian
Date: 24th April, 2013

Investment for green schemes

Source: Business Cornwall
Date: 17th April, 2013
Screen Shot 2013-05-08 at 17.08.46

WREN is given £100k to help boost green growth

WREN given £100 k

Source: This is Cornwall
Date: 13th February, 2013


WREN goes green with electric cars

Electric Cars

Source: This is Cornwall
Date: 30th January, 2013


Britain's First Solar Powered Town

Source: The Telegraph
Date: 1st April, 2011

Aiming for 30% Renewable Power

Source: BBC News
Date: 18th January, 2011


WREN Achievements


Enough solar PV to power 1,120 homes

Enough renewable heat to heat 279 homes

– together enough energy to make 314 million cups of tea


The details

WREN's paid-up, voting members 1130
WREN Solar PV 104 installations - 880 kWp
WREN-influenced Solar PV 2.64 MW
Wadebridge Energy Co Solar PV 100kW
Renewable Heat Installations 61 installations - 1197 kW
WREN-influenced renewable heat 4 installations - 710 kW
Household insulation - CERT funded 160 households
Renewables Community Funds administered £400,000 to date
WREN Community Fund offer £10,000 allocation made to date


WREN also:

  • Facilitated St Breock wind-farm re-power with REG Windpower, and is managing a community fund that has grown to £60,000 annually
  • Is managing the £10,000 per year Treworder Solar Park community fund
  • Ran the Sunshine Tariff Trial with Western Power Distribution to investigate the effect of time-of-use tariffs in shifting electricity demand to off-peak
  • Ran the WREN Energy Shop in central Wadebridge for five years, offering advice on energy saving and energy generation