Energise Barnsley

What they do

Energise Barnsley is a new Community Benefit Society set up to deliver community-owned renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy supply projects.

The project

This is Energise Barnsleys's first offer, in which they are looking to raise £1.2 million of bond finance that will enable them to take into community ownership up to 2MW of residential and community rooftop solar assets on Barnsley Metropolitan Council owned property. 

Using initial underwriting finance from Ignite, a Social Impact Fund, Energise Barnsley has already installed around 1MW of photovoltaic (PV) solar assets on 321 residential homes in Barnsley, which are operational. The remaining capacity will be installed on community rooftops, such as schools and sheltered housing, with pre-registered community Feed In Tariff rates.

The project is the largest roof top solar joint local authority and community energy project in the UK.

The story so far

Planning for the project started in late 2014 with a community energy proposal from Gen Community Ventures to install solar PV across the Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council estate. The community would own the assets of the project, and benefit from any Feed In Tariff residual income, through a community benefit fund. There would be no capital cost to the Council, the landlord to the rooftop assets.

The launch day for Energise Barnsley on 27 August 2015, coincided with the launch of the Government consultation for the Feed In Tariff review. The project would have stopped immediately if the underwriting facility from Ignite had not been secured earlier in the year permitting the first build phase to go ahead.

Three hundred and twenty one tenanted Berneslai Homes received the free solar PV install. Over 75% of the houses are bungalows with elderly tenants as residents. The remaining non-domestic properties benefitted from the community tariff pre-registration lock in (until September 2016), via OFGEM. These buildings consist of schools, sheltered housing blocks and community buildings.

There is approximately 1MW of rooftop solar to be installed and commissioned, before the September 30th deadline, adding to the 1MW already installed.

About Energise Barnsley

This community bond offer is a result of determined hard work from Energise Barnsley members, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, Generation Community Ventures, Berneslai Homes, British Gas Solar and community groups in Barnsley. It is an offer to the residents of Barnsley, and the wider low carbon community; the chance to invest in and own low carbon generating assets – rooftop solar PV – installed on Council-owned property.

Barnsley has a very strong historical link with energy production in the UK. Whole communities and families depended on coal mining. The council decided, after reviewing the Department of Energy and Climate Change ‘Community Energy Strategy’ to back this initiative and help their own community transform to a low carbon society.

Awards

Energise Barnsley has been shortlisted for the Renewable Energy Association 2016 Community Energy Award.

Read more about Energise Barnsley on the Ethex blog

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