A pioneering solar power project that aims to power a Brixton community while educating residents has gone live, banking £6,500 in just four days.
Brixton Energy’s Solar One scheme, which launched this week, aims to raise £75,000 to install solar panels on a Loughborough Estate rooftop in the first community share scheme of its kind in an urban area.
The project hopes to reach its goal by selling 75,000 shares, at £1 each, in the co-operative company before the sale closes on March 10.
One of the people behind the project, Agamemnon Otero, who also helped curate the edible bus stop in Landor Road, told the Brixton Blog that the scheme was power for the people, by the people.
“This is local people that are doing it,” he said. “It does exactly what is says on the can.”
Investors can buy anything from 250 to 20,000 shares in the co-operative company, and can expect a return of up to three per cent per year. But Brixton Energy hopes local ethical investors will choose to put their dividend into a community energy efficiency fund, which will help re-educate people on the estate about energy efficiency.
A group of residents could also team up to buy the minimum 250 shares, making it more affordable and accessible for all.
Otero continued: “This fund isn’t for things like new windows, but about how you can learn new things.
“We want to show people how to assess their energy efficiency, and run re-skilling classes on making useful things like draught excluders.”
If enough shares are sold by March 10, hundreds of square metres of solar panels will be quickly erected on Elmore House, with work expected to be finished by the end of the month.
Following Brixton Solar 1 the group say the sky is the limit. Umbrella organisation Repowering South London has already identified six more sites on rundown estates in Brixton where they want to introduce the scheme, and have roll out plans “ready to go”.
The idea has received support from Transition Town Brixton, Brixton Low Carbon Zone and Cllrs Steve Reed and Rachel Heywood at Lambeth who, Otero tells us, are “so up for” the project.
He estimates that about 1,500 hours have been spent by the group trying to get the share scheme off the ground. “It’s a real surprise when you get 10 people meeting every week for a year. It shows how much of a community project this is.”
You can invest in your community now by signing up for shares here.