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Community-owned solar array set to help London’s most deprived

Community-owned solar array set to help London’s most deprived

  • by Peter Bennett
  • Published on 15 March 2012
  • Updated on 15 March 2012
Community-owned solar array set to help London’s most deprived
Repowering South London has launched its first project that aims to install a co-operativley owned solar array on Loughborough Estate in Brixton.
After dedicating a year of work to the project, community energy group, Repowering South London, has announced the launch of London’s first community-owned solar power project to be built on social housing.
Brixton Energy Solar 1 will be installing solar panels over several roofs on the Loughborough Estate in Brixton. The solar installation is expected to save over 20 tonnes of carbon from being emitted into the capital’s atmosphere every year.
The community solar scheme is believed to be the UK’s first inner-city, co-operatively owned, renewable powerstation to be built on social housing. The solar scheme has already raised 70 percent of its £75,000 target by issuing a community share offer which provides investors with a return of up to 3 percent per annum.
Susan Sheenan, a long-time South London resident explained why she invested in the scheme: “I have been pondering solar panels on my own house for several years and I simply don’t have the right roof. It would also cost me a lot more money than I have put into Brixton Energy – the minimum investment is just £250. I would have to spend 40 times that to get any meaningful amount of solar panels on my house.”
The green investment scheme hopes that the enterprise will help London’s fifth most deprived area tackle fuel poverty, reduce dependence on big energy companies and help kick-start an energy revolution from the ground up in South London.
Investors will benefit from FiT payments associated with the solar installation as well as a power purchase agreement with the operator of Elmore House, who will consume the energy immediately on-site. Part of the income generated from the scheme will also be recycled back into the local community, through the scheme’s Community Energy Efficiency fund. The fund will help locals install energy-saving measures in the Brixton area such as draught busting measures and insulation.
Jason, a 35-year old software developer explained why he believes his investment will matter: “This is a real way to be part of a real change for the environment. Like lots of people a couple of years ago I did lots of small things around my flat, like change light bulbs and recycling. I was left feeling a bit apathetic after that. What to do next?
“Brixton energy is the first scheme I have seen where I feel we can take action to tackle climate change.  I believe solar power is a technology that will create a cleaner better world. I would love to put solar panels on the roof of my flat but I don’t own my flat so I can’t.”
Agamemnon Otero, a Project Manager for Brixton Energy explained: “Generating carbon free energy is important, but so too is transforming people’s perception about the energy they consume. Visible inner city projects like Brixton Energy Solar 1 allow passive viewers to contemplate and control personal energy consumption.
“Facilitating a share offer for end user individuals in the community to invest in, and receive financial returns builds further awareness. Generating and maintaining a Community Energy Efficiency Fund from a portion of the annual revenue allows practical application, a hands on re-skilling and energy efficiency education.
“These three elements – generation, education and investment – allow individuals to be part of the solution to a low carbon future. Empowered individuals joined as communities find more time for contemplating change, which in turn triangulates and resolves indifference.”  
Brixton Energy Solar 1 share offer is set to close on March 20 and is accepting investments between £250-£20,000.

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