Largest community owned solar array opens next week

Largest community-owned solar PV rooftop project in the UK goes up on Prodrive’s Banbury HQ
prodrive

Official switch-on & rooftop photo call: 27 Sept 2016
The last of 2446 solar PV panels went up today on a 636kW rooftop project at Prodrive’s massive HQ in Banbury Oxfordshire, making it the biggest community-owned rooftop solar PV installation in the UK.

The project is one of 13 rooftop solar PV projects completed over the summer by Oxford based social enterprise Low Carbon Hub on schools and businesses across Oxfordshire.

A different kind of energy – with benefits for Oxfordshire
Low Carbon Hub is funding the installation with a mix of loans and a community energy share offer, with returns for investors projected at a bank-beating 5%+, based on RPI + 3%.

The project’s size is significant not only for the 636kW of clean energy it will generate for Prodrive and the national grid, but because of where Low Carbon Hub’s revenue (from electricity generation, export and the feed-in tariff) will end up:
one third will cover installation and maintenance costs
one third will pay investors returns
the final third – 100% of Low Carbon Hub’s own surplus — will go into Low Carbon Hub’s community benefit fund.
The Prodrive project will add £240K over 20 years to the Hub’s community benefit fund, projected at £3.5 million over 20 years.

£3.5 million to fund a new energy system
Low Carbon Hub’s Community Energy Manifesto sets out their ambitious vision for this £3.5 million fund, which will include further renewable energy installations in Oxfordshire, demand reduction and efficiency projects, and innovation pilots:

“Starting with a wave of community-benefit solar PV and hydro schemes, Low Carbon Hub’s ambition is for the whole of Oxfordshire to be powered by an interconnected series of smart micro-grids, centred around multiple, small-scale renewable energy projects.”
Download: Low Carbon Hub Community Energy Manifesto
Low Carbon Hub CEO Barbara Hammond said:

“We worked very hard during the 2015 ‘clean energy dash’ to beat the FiTs accreditation deadline for all of the projects in our 2016 Low Carbon Hub Solar PV Share Offer. Now we want to invite local people who believe in a better energy system for Oxfordshire to invest in this portfolio of solar projects and earn themselves a bank-beating return.”

The Hub, winners of this year’s prestigious Ashden award for sustainable energy, is working with a wide range of local partners, including schools, businesses, community groups, councils and innovation hubs, to bring a clean energy system to Oxfordshire.

David Richard, chairman of Prodrive said:

“As we are developing the next generation of automotive electric and hybrid systems here in Banbury, it was very obvious that we should use our roof space to generate clean energy for the building. The scheme run by the Low Carbon Hub is an excellent way to reduce our carbon footprint, lower our energy bills, while also generating significant funds to re-invest in further schemes within the local community.”

The installation will help the technology and motorsport company save over 5600 tonnes of CO2 over the lifetime of the 20-year project and enjoy discounted electricity, at no cost to the business.

There’s still time to invest in this last FiT-based solar project
Investments start at £250. The largest investor in Low Carbon Hub’s share offer to date is Linacre College, Oxford, with a £100,000 institutional investment — a student driven response to divestment campaigns. Local investors include Solarcentury founder Jeremy Leggett, Chris Goodall, analyst and world leading expert on renewable energy technologies, and hundreds of others, both ‘sophisticated investors’ and community energy supporters, from Oxfordshire and beyond.

Chris Goodall said,

“As interest rates fall to zero and below, it really makes sense to put spare money into the last remaining FiT-based projects.”

Lisa Ashford, CEO of Ethex, the not-for-profit, positive investment online platform has said in her post-Brexit analysis of community energy investments:

“Non-traditional investment products [like community energy projects] offer an alternative opportunity in this climate [of lower interest rates]. With the benefit of returns forecasted from 5%, much higher than many savings accounts, UK-based community energy share and bond offers could offer a relatively safe haven in a stormy environment.”

To invest in the Low Carbon Hub Solar PV share offer before it closes on 3rd October 2016
(and become a voting member of the Low Carbon Hub Community Benefit Society), visit:
www.lowcarbonhub.org/invest

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