Big Solar Co-op says there is a week left to run on its first share offer, which closes on 10 December and has so far raised over £750,000 from more than 250 people.
The co-op – a volunteer-led non profit which is working to solarise buildings across the UK, launched the share offer in July. The money raised so far has allowed it to add 3MW of potential large solar rooftops to its development portfolio. Funding will also be used to install solar panels on the first rooftops in the portfolio in the West Midlands and continue to progress the pipeline of large commercial and community rooftops across the UK.
Volunteers have identified more than 50 new potential solar sites during the share offer’s run, and exclusivity agreements have been reached with 12 building owners – equivalent to 3 MW of solar capacity.
Jon Hallé, co-founder, Big Solar Co-op, said: “We started by asking ourselves: why doesn’t every large rooftop have solar? And we decided to make it happen! It’s exhilarating to see how much progress we’ve made as a non-profit group, working through a network of volunteers, with a common goal of tackling the climate crisis.
“Thank you to everyone who has invested so far. We’re not just offering a fair financial return, but an environmental and social one too. Our investor members are each helping bring co-operatively owned solar to places which are less sunny and less wealthy, with all our surplus re-invested in solar, cutting carbon and providing cheaper power.”
Big Solar, which was incubated by community renewable veterans Sharenergy, says it and offers a new, nationwide model for developing community-owned rooftop solar projects. Centralising processes and resources such as feasibility studies, solar array designs and legal agreements allows local groups or individuals to focus on finding suitable rooftop sites, using their specialist skills where needed and at scale.
The share offer aims to pay investors a target annual return of 4%, with the first interest payment payable in autumn 2024. The minimum investment is £100 and the maximum is £100,000. Share interest will be tax free for some shareholders under the Personal Savings Allowance scheme and shares can be passed on free of Inheritance Tax.
The Big Solar Co-op is completely owned by members of the public, who either volunteer their time, invest, or both. Investor members will control 25% of votes in the Big Solar Co-op, with the remaining 75% controlled by volunteer worker members.