18/08/2022 - Permalink

News from our partners: New nationwide community solar business launches locally

Related topics: Climate change / environment / Economic growth / Partner organisations

News from our partners

  • The Big Solar Co-op, incubated by Sharenergy, seeks to bring solar to commercial and community buildings to support local businesses and organisations to tackle climate change
  • Projections suggest UK wide potential for 5 GW solar rooftop capacity – at peak times producing as much power as all UK nuclear
  • First share offer aims to raise £1.2 million to fund first three projects in the Midlands, in Birmingham, Ludlow and Tenbury Wells, and expand pipeline
  • Initial national target is 100 MW by 2030

 The Big Solar Co-op, a pioneering new UK-wide community energy group created by community renewables veterans Sharenergy, wants to unlock the huge potential of rooftop solar on community and commercial buildings in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin.

It offers a new, nationwide model for developing community-owned rooftop solar projects designed to overcome the issues some localised community energy groups have been facing since the Government removed the Feed-In Tariff subsidy in 2019.

McConnel, Ludlow

To achieve the first phase of its target – 100 MW by 2030 – it has recently launched its first share offer to the public. This aims to raise £1.2 million to build three solar installations in the Midlands and continue to develop a pipeline of rooftop arrays.

Jon Hallé, co-founder, Big Solar Co-op, said:-

“Our starting point is, how do we get solar on more large rooftops in the UK? There are hundreds of thousands of potentially suitable buildings which still do not have solar PV. We calculate that these could contribute at least 5 GW of solar capacity. 

“We’ve come up with an offer which is much more appealing to big energy users than commercial rent-a-roof schemes. Our terms are more flexible and as a carbon-first organisation we are not taking big profits out so the savings to host sites are significant.”

The Big Solar Co-op centralises processes and resources such as feasibility studies, solar array designs and legal agreements. This allows volunteers in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin to focus on finding suitable rooftop sites and make solar projects actually happen.

It also offers more flexible terms to organisations wanting to install solar on their rooftops, and as a community energy organisation motivated by reducing carbon emissions rather than purely profit, its projects are likely to be more appealing to potential host businesses, such as leisure centres, colleges and manufacturing companies.

The first three rooftop installations will be 300 kWp on a food-processing plant in Tenbury Wells; 120 kWp on a farm machinery manufacturer in Ludlow; and 30 kWp on a doctors’ surgery in Birmingham, to include electric vehicle charging powered by the solar array.

A substantial pipeline of other large rooftop sites across Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin and nationally is also under development.

The share offer aims to pay investors a target annual return of 4%, with the first interest payment payable in autumn 2024. The minimum investment is £100 and the maximum is £100,000. Share interest will be tax free for some shareholders under the Personal Savings Allowance scheme and shares can be passed on free of Inheritance Tax.

Kevin Oubridge, Big Solar Co-op local co-ordinator for Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin, said:-

“With so many challenges facing organisations across Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin, getting us to do the hard yards of planning, installing and maintaining rooftop solar makes total sense. It’s free, will save them money and reduce their emissions! It’s also a great opportunity for the people of Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin to invest in making a real difference to climate change.

 Our aim is to get 100 MW on rooftops nationally by 2030, which is equivalent to the electricity usage from 30,000 homes, and we’re making a start by targeting businesses and other organisations in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin. We already have a number of potential projects underway. I am immensely grateful to our supporters who have already invested and hope many more will come on board. It really is an exciting opportunity.”

The share offer opened to pre-registered investors on 24 June 2022 and has already attracted over £480,000 in investment. It will close in three months or as soon as the full target is reached.

The Big Solar Co-op is completely owned by the public, who either volunteer their time, invest, or both. Investor members will control 25% of votes in the Big Solar Co-op, with the remaining 75% controlled by volunteer worker members.

To find out more and download a Share Offer Document please visit https://bigsolar.coop/invest

Further information

About Big Solar Co-op

The Big Solar Co-op is an exciting new approach to subsidy-free community solar, supported by Sharenergy. We’re working across the UK to:

  • Make solar viable on a huge range of sites – mainly community and commercial rooftops
  • Empower and support volunteers to work together to get it built
  • Fight the climate crisis through large-scale, grassroots community action

We’ll be funding our new solar installations with community share offers.

Find out more:-