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Bristol solar energy co-op hits £2m crowdfunding target

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Written by: Bristol Post | Posted 07 July 2016 9:35

Bristol solar energy co-op hits £2m crowdfunding target

Community-owned Bristol Energy Cooperative has smashed its £2m solar bond crowdfunding target.

Around 350 people invested in the bonds, and BEC says this illustrates that the transition to renewables continues, despite the turbulence post EU referendum.

The news comes just as BEC switched on its new solar farm in Lawrence Weston, on the eastern edge of Avonmouth at the junction of the M5 and M49, which is already generating electricity after being built in six weeks. BEC says the completion of this site makes it the largest community energy company by capacity. 

Altogether BEC’s planned installations will provide 9,268 kWp of solar PV capacity, generating an average of 9,300 MWh of electricity each year; enough energy to power 2,270 average UK homes. As a non-profit community energy co-op, BEC will use income generated from its solar portfolio to fund £4 million of social projects across Greater Bristol and Somerset over the 25 years of the projects.

BEC’s crowdfund continues through a share offer to help install solar panels on around 10 additional community roofs across Greater Bristol this summer, including the Kuumba Centre, the Architecture Centre and Wick’s Sports Centre. This is a one-off opportunity for these community buildings, as the Government has reduced support to solar energy after this summer.

The co-op, established in 2011, has just completed installing solar panels on Coniston Community Centre, which will help the organisation reduce its electricity bills. This follows BEC’s successful installations earlier this year on Easton Community Centre and Brentry and Henbury Children’s Centre.

BEC’s share offer is open until July 31. BEC says it offers up to five per cent pa returns on investments of between £50 and £100,000 made before the deadline.

Andy O’Brien, co-director of BEC, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to see our solar bond reach its £2m target. The BEC board of directors would like to thank our growing community of investors and supporters for their resounding support of community energy, especially in times of instability following the EU Referendum. Together we are proving that there is an alternative way to power our communities which passes the benefits to the environment, the local economy and individual investors.

“But our solar crowdfunding campaign doesn’t stop here. We’re aiming to install solar panels on community roofs across the city this summer, and are encouraging as many people as possible to take part in our share offer, where the minimum investment is just £50.”

Helen Holland, Bristol City Council Cabinet member with responsibility for energy said: “Congratulations to Bristol Energy Cooperative for its crowdfunding success, helping our region make the much needed transition to a sustainable energy future. It’s wonderful to see the city’s community energy movement develop into something we can be very proud of.

“Solar projects funded by the people to benefit the local community and economy are even more vital on our path towards becoming carbon-neutral following the Brexit vote. I hope Bristolians will continue to back BEC’s solar fund-raises which support community organisations to make savings while reducing their impact on the environment. Bristol City Council will continue to do all it can to support community energy in the city.”

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