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Pioneering “solar bond” launched by UK’s largest community rooftop solar project, Energise Barnsley

  • Five-year investment in Energise Barnsley expected to yield annual returns of 5 percent
  • Solar bond offer will raise £1.2m to fund up to 2 Megawatts of rooftop solar panels across council-owned buildings
  • Energise Barnsley is the largest joint local authority and community energy project in the country.

Barnsley residents and investors in the low carbon economy are being invited to invest in a new five-year solar bond, which is expected to yield returns of five per cent each year.

The solar bond is being offered by Energise Barnsley, the largest joint local authority and community energy project in the UK. It aims to raise £1.2m from the bond to help finance the installation of up to 2MW of rooftop solar panels for residential homes, schools, sheltered housing accommodation and other community buildings in the town.

The minimum investment in the bond offer is £1,000. Barnsley residents, however, are being offered the chance to invest a minimum stake of just £100.

The solar panels will be designed and installed by British Gas Solar, part of parent company Centrica’s new Distributed Energy and Power business which helps large energy users in the private and public sector to take control of all aspects of their energy use.

Over the last six months, Energise Barnsley has already installed around 1MW of solar panels on 321 homes in Barnsley. More than three quarters of those who have benefited are elderly social housing tenants living in bungalows.

The scheme is run as a partnership between British Gas Solar, community benefit society Energise Barnsley and Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.

Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central, said: “I am very happy to support Energise Barnsley and its new solar bond. It’s a fantastic example of a community energy initiative between the council and a community benefit society. I wish them all the success in the future.

Cllr Sir Steve Houghton CBE, Leader of Barnsley Council, said: “We’re proud to be part of Energise Barnsley, the largest joint local authority and community energy project in the UK.  

“The scheme is bringing solar energy into our local communities and we’ve already installed solar panels onto 321 council houses. The solar bond project will allow many more community buildings to benefit from this community energy initiative.”

Chris Morrison, Head of Energy Construction Services at Centrica Distributed Energy and Power, said:We’re seeing increasing interest from businesses and the public sector in localised energy generation. Projects like Energise Barnsley are a significant part of this movement and deserve backing from communities and investors.

“Having successfully installed the first wave of solar panels in Barnsley, we look forward to raising the prominence of solar in the town further with this new bond, supporting local residents to reduce their bills and invest in projects that matter to them.”

Andy Heald, Director at Energise Barnsley, said: “We adopted this local authority and community energy partnership model after the Government’s Community Energy Strategy two years ago. We’re very proud to have had great partners in the project, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, and British Gas Solar, and have already installed solar panels on hundreds of homes, generating significant power from council properties.

“Rooftop solar power is no longer commercially viable for individual residents in Barnsley, under current feed-in tariffs. But at Energise Barnsley, we’re already working on the next initiatives. We hope residents and investors will take a stake in Energise Barnsley, and support the new solar bond.”

Revenue the new solar panels will earn from feed-in tariffs will flow back into a community energy fund to support local social enterprises and educational services targeting fuel poverty. The fund will amount to £20,000 in the first year, and community groups will be able to apply for funding from June 2016.

The solar bond launched on 26 May, and is available until 10 August 2016 -- unless the target amount is raised more quickly. More information about the bond offer can be found at .

 

Notes to editors

Energise Barnsley

Andy Heald

Director

07899891667             

Andy@gen-community.co.uk

Barnsley Metropolitan Council:

Barnsley Council Communications and Marketing team

01226 773443

communications@barnsley.gov.uk

About Energise Barnsley and the new solar bond

  • Energise Barnsley is the UK’s largest local authority community energy project by the number of rooftops installed with solar panels.
  • The solar bond will be administered on behalf of Energise Barnsley by positive savings and investments platform Ethex.
  • Residents who live in postcode areas S70 through to S75 will be able to invest the minimum of £100 rather than £1,000.
  • Bond capital will only be deployed on commissioned, operational solar photovoltaic (PV) assets, which have passed technical performance tests
  • The solar assets have performance warranties backed by British Gas Solar.  In addition all operation and maintenance will be performed by British Gas Solar, ensuring highest quality equipment with reliable generation and energy forecast.
  • A loan of up to £1.5m has been agreed in principle by Charity Bank. If this loan facility is formally approved then Charity Bank’s commitment will support the investment in this bond offer.
  • The Bank’s formal approval is subject to completion of legal and technical due diligence and satisfactory documentation.
  • The solar irradiance levels for the Barnsley region have been independently measured by a leading solar Technical Adviser, OST Energy, ensuring the energy forecasts have high levels of reliability.
  • The project has been registered with Ofgem so that income from the Feed in Tariff is guaranteed for 20 years. The proposed solar installations have already received re-registered community Feed in Tariff rates.
  • In addition to Feed-in Tariff income, larger non-domestic sites have a Power Purchase Agreement with Barnsley Council for a 25-year period, providing long term, high credit quality, RPI linked income
  • Generation Community will oversee the projects, liaising with local authorities and engaging with community organisations. British Gas will be the contractor for the installation of the projects ensuring excellent quality assurance on deployment and will continue to operate and maintain the systems. 

About Generation Community - http://www.gen-community.co.uk

Gen Community is a community benefit society. Its aim is for the low-carbon economy to be developed by maximising social benefit through mutual ownership of energy generation, public engagement and retained community benefit.

Gen Community has installed over 200kWp of solar photovoltaic (PV) on fuel poor homes in Newport, South Wales, funded through a community share offer. The Newport project received the 2014 Community Energy Award by the Renewable Energy Association. In total, Gen Community has raised more than £1 million in community share offers.

As a community benefit society, Generation Community is registered with the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) - number 31214 R.

About British Gas Solarhttps://www.britishgas.co.uk/business/energy-services/solar

British Gas Solar provides bespoke solar PV and thermal panel installations and financing packages for homes and businesses across the UK. Established in 1994, British Gas Solar’s team of experts has installed thousands of solar panels and worked with hundreds homes and businesses to help them save money and reduce their carbon footprint.

British Gas Solar is part of Centrica Distributed Energy & Power, a global business unit which brings together expertise from across the Group to provide large energy users with distributed energy solutions and combine this with Centrica’s existing power generation capabilities.  The business has more than 1,000 customers across 3,700 sites in the UK and US.

About Ethex - www.ethex.org.uk

Ethex brings together on one platform the best positive savings and investment opportunities to make it easy to make money do good. On the platform, you can browse, compare and invest in a range of products from bank accounts and ISAs to equity investments and charity bonds that offer a social and environmental as well as a financial return. Since 2013, Ethex has helped raise over £35 million of investment into 50+ social businesses, charities and community organisations.

For more information contact:

Katie Rose
British Gas
07789 575915
katie.rose@britishgas.co.uk

British Gas is Britain’s leading energy supplier, and serves around 11 million homes in Britain – nearly half the country’s homes – as well as providing energy to around half a million British businesses. British Gas provides value for money, dedicated customer service, innovative energy solutions and the highest quality Homes Services expertise in the country. Find out more at www.britishgas.co.uk.


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