Climate change campaign group, 10:10, has teamed up with the Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisation (GMCVO) to help expand community-run renewable energy projects across the city region.
The People Powered Renewables Project is being developed to help voluntary and not-for-profit organisations in Greater Manchester finance the installation of solar PV systems and improve their energy efficiency.
According to 10:10, these ‘community hubs’ generally have enough roof space to install 4-10kW of solar PV peak capacity. If purchased outright, installations of this size can cost up to £20,000 and boost an organisation’s bottom line by up to £2,100 a year through energy savings and income from the Government's Feed-in Tariff (FiT).
With grant funding now secured from the Tudor Trust, the project aims to help organisations raise the funds to invest in their own solar installations through establishing a crowdfunded community benefit society (CBS).
The CBS will issue shares purchasable by any member of the public and then enter into a lease agreement with community hubs to install, own and maintain solar installations on their rooftops. The participating hubs will then benefit from a reduced rate on their electricity bills, while the FiT income will be distributed amongst the CBS shareholders.
The funding arrangement is modelled on 10:10’s successful Solar Schools initiative, which has raised over £500,000 to install 400kWp of solar capacity on 65 schools across England and Wales.
GMCVO and 10:10 are currently recruiting community hubs and arranging pre-installation feasibility studies. 16 organisations across Greater Manchester have already expressed an interest in participating, with a further 16 at the discussion stage.
Amy Cameron, community crowdfunding campaign manager at 10:10, hopes to issue shares for the project in spring 2016, with installations starting in the summer.
“Greater Manchester is so alive right now with ambition and activity - it's the perfect place to launch a trailblazing project like this”, she said.
“Working with the GMCVO, we're going to be helping vital community buildings install solar in a way that cuts carbon and bills, while creating a network of skilled, confident and connected individuals, organisations and businesses able to tackle all kinds of energy challenges. Bring on the Northern (Clean) Powerhouse!”
Community hubs interested in taking part must express their interest by 10 August 2015. The project will also be engaging with local solar suppliers and installers from 2016.
For more information, email Alison Crush at firstname.lastname@example.org.