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Community energy shares ‘oversubscribed’ in Greater Manchester

Community solar power has proved hugely popular in Greater Manchester, with four new projects confirmed following an oversubscribed public share offer.

Community solar power has proved hugely popular in Greater Manchester, with four new projects confirmed following an oversubscribed public share offer. 

Three primary schools and a community centre are to be fitted with rooftop solar systems following a successful campaign by Greater Manchester Community Renewables (GMCR), which was founded in 2015 to bring the benefit of community-owned renewable energy to the region.

The project reached its optimum fundraising target of £186,000 in July through a community share offer.

Residents and businesses across Greater Manchester had previously been asked to show their support for locally-generated clean energy by signing a community energy pledge.

Local power

Overall, it is estimated that the four installations will generate over 100MWh of renewable electricity a year, cutting the total energy bill of the four sites by around £50,000 over the lifetime of the 20-year project. 

Financial surpluses from the scheme, generated by Feed-in Tariff (FIT) revenues, expected to reach £60,000 over the project’s lifetime, will be used to support other eco-friendly projects in the local area. 

The installations will be fitted by Oldham-based NPS Solar, a member of Greater Manchester Business Growth Hub’s Low Carbon Network.   

Ali Abbas, director of GMCR, said: “This is a fantastic achievement. We were oversubscribed with share applications, which is incredible.

“If people are interested in supporting community energy then there are a number of schemes across Greater Manchester that are currently looking for investment.”

Business case

The growing popularity of solar shows that there is still a strong business case for rooftop schemes despite a cut in subsidies from 2016. 

Andrew Hunt, another of GMCR’s directors, said: “The UK is largely dependent on imports for its energy supplies, and the falling pound plus any future import tariffs means that energy prices could rise significantly as a result of Brexit.

“Although bad for consumers, this is good news for community energy projects. They will see revenue streams boosted and be able to save their customers even more on their bills.”