On September 29 the Edinburgh Community Solar Cooperative formally launched its share offer – giving everyone in Edinburgh (and beyond) the opportunity to buy shares in what will become the UK’s largest community-owned urban renewables project.
The coop is looking to raise around £1.8 million for the project, which will fund the installation of solar panels on 25 public buildings across the capital.
Everyone who buys shares will become a co-owner of the scheme. Everyone living in Edinburgh, from young people to pensioners, as well as local businesses, are being encouraged to participate.
The majority of buildings – all owned by the City of Edinburgh Council – are schools, although community and leisure centres are all involved. For a full list please see the Edinburgh Community Solar Cooperative web site.
Once installed, the energy generated by the panels will be used on site by the buildings, saving the council around £2 million and nearly a thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. The council will buy the low-cost green energy from the coop on a 20-year fixed price deal.
Any profit the coop generates from the scheme will go towards a Community Benefit Fund which will support new renewable energy projects across the city. In the first five years of the project, applications for funding will be invited from the community groups which use the buildings on which panels have been installed. These could be school managers or users, or for example a parent teacher association. The types of initiatives include:
1. Assisting building users and managers to further reduce their energy bills and emissions, particularly buildings that have panels installed by ECSC.
2. Educational projects, particularly with buildings that have panels installed by ECSC.
3. Assisting with the development of new community led projects which support the objectives of ECSC, by sharing ECSC’s experience of developing projects and raising funds.
4. Actions to tackle fuel poverty.
5. Community energy efficiency schemes, particularly those that tackle fuel poverty.
Share owners will get a regulated return of five per cent per year on their shares, plus RPI.
Why community owned?
Over the last decade a number of communities across the UK have successfully launched share offers – enabling people in the community and beyond to own renewable energy. It is a powerful way for local people to take control of the energy used in their community, combat climate change and fund further renewables projects in their locality.
In Edinburgh, it has been difficult for many people to participate in the renewable energy revolution – a lot of folk live in tenements where shared ownership makes joint initiatives hard to arrange.
Who can buy shares?
Anyone in Edinburgh (and beyond) can buy shares and become a member of the cooperative. There will be around 1.8 million shares at £1 each, and the minimum anyone can buy is 250 shares (£250 pounds). If the share offer is oversubscribed, first preference for shares will go to people with an Edinburgh postcode. Each member has one vote regardless of the number of shares held, whether it is 250 or, say, 5000.
Share owners will get a regulated return of five per cent per year on their shares, plus RPI. The investment will also be eligible for the Enterprise Investment Scheme, subject to HMRC approval, offering income tax relief of 30 per cent on any investment. More details can be found on the web site here.
What is the Edinburgh Community Solar Cooperative?
The Edinburgh Community Solar Cooperative was set up specifically to enable people living in Edinburgh to participate in renewable energy schemes.
The coop has engaged the services of Energy4All, a not-for-profit social enterprise that helps community groups to develop, own and operate renewable energy co-operatives in the UK.
How do I register?
To register your interest please visit the web site here. You will be sent further information and a share offer document, once it is published.
More information is available on the following flyer