Brighton Energy Co-operative has launched a pioneering project to generate community renewable energy in Brighton & Hove.
Seventy people met last Wednesday to hear about the £200,000 share offer and by the end of the evening, the co-operative had raised £27,000 towards their target. The same day the co-op was also offered a £50,000 loan facility from a community investment fund – all contributing towards their solar panel project at Shoreham Port.
Members of the co-op will receive a return of 4% on their investment from the third year of generation.
Brighton Energy Co-operative director Will Cottrell said:
“Now it’s crunch time. Over the next few weeks we will be contracting installers to begin work. As such it’s key we get investment in as soon as possible – our installers need to start to pay their suppliers for their materials. We aim to begin installation on 28 May.
Caroline Lucas congratulated the co-op on its launch.
“The Brighton Energy Co-op is one of this city’s great success stories. As a long standing supporter I was delighted to join the team on Wednesday to help launch its first community-owned solar energy project.
“I was also pleased that the Secretary of State today joined me in congratulating the inspirational organisation for getting this exciting new venture off the ground, helping to put Brighton at the forefront of green energy innovation.
The launch has taken place despite cuts in the feed in tariff. Reduced solar power panel prices have according to Will Cottrell enabled the project to continue.
Critics however maintain that the solar power industry will suffer as a result of the cuts and Lucas recently criticised the Secretary of State for Energy- Ed Davey for failing to offer any assurances that the government’s forthcoming reform of the electricity market will recognise the potential for community renewables projects here and across the UK.
Lucas said: “The coalition has pledged to ‘support community ownership of renewable energy schemes’, yet it is continuing to sideline such schemes in its overall energy strategy, which seems to be written by – and for – the Big Six energy companies. In countries like Germany, community ownership of the grid has played a key role in allowing renewables and energy efficiency to flourish – unlike here in Britain where the grid is privately owned and controlled..
“The government must make it easier for co-operatives like Brighton Energy Co-op, housing associations and local authorities to generate their own energy and to own their own grid, so that we can reduce our dependency on the Big Six, tackle high bills and reduce carbon emissions.”
Lucas has also criticised the Government’s ‘Green Deal’ urging ministers to reconsider the possibility of recycling revenue from the carbon floor price and EU emissions trading scheme revenue into the ECO (Energy Company Obligations) pot to top it up and in doing so prevent what she describes as the poor cross-subsidising rich customers.
by Vicky Portwain