Giving people control of their energy
Our mission is to give London’s communities the power to create, control and benefit from renewable energy, and play an active part in the necessary transition to a low-carbon society. Our community-owned and led solar projects are the most visible way we do this. Here’s a short guide to how they work.
The community is in charge
We support local communities to build solar installations that are owned by and provide direct benefits to them. These benefits include direct cost savings, ethical and affordable investment opportunities and education that can lead to a future in the Green Industries. In the past decade, we’ve established eight energy co-operatives across London. And we’re actively exploring new projects every day.
Have an idea for a new solar location? Get in touch and we’ll see if we can make it work.
How our solar projects are set up
Every local solar project starts with the setting up of a Community Benefit Society – a legal entity whose purpose is to serve the benefit of the greater community. Anyone can become a member of a Society – residents, businesses, councils – by purchasing shares in it. Those members and a volunteer Board of Directors who come from within the community then decide everything the co-op does. Everyone has an equal voice no matter how much they have invested.
These share sales pay for the solar panels installed, which then sell power at a discount to the building they sit on. This may be a school, church, community building – anywhere there is a demand to set up a project and where panels will be suitably productive.
Generating direct benefits
Once the solar power is coming in, the income it makes pays for the running costs of the Society and the interest we promise to shareholders (about 3% per year). Any more income the co-op makes goes into a Community Fund, and into projects that benefit the local community. Our co-ops will raise more than £200,000 for Community Funds across London.
Projects provide other benefits too. For instance: improved air quality and reduced carbon emissions that come from switching from fossil fuels to a renewable energy source. Funds generated can give assistance to those living in fuel poverty and help ensure they can pay their energy bills and properly heat their homes. Finally, each project promotes democracy and empowerment, because the community itself determines how a co-op operates.