A community interest organisation has launched a new solar share offer that will help to allieviate fuel poverty in 240 homes in one of the highest areas of fuel poverty in the UK – Newport, Wales.
Generation Community (Gen Community), was founded to develop low carbon energy projects, and is inviting people to become members the Society by investing between £500 and £20,000 into the share offer.
The initiative is the first live project developed by Gen Community and involves installing solar panels onto 240 ‘low income’ homes in Newport and the surrounding area. The project would help to alleviate fuel poverty in an area with the highest fuel poverty population densities in the UK.
The completed offer is projected to reduce annual fuel bills by around £38,000 per annum in the Newport area, delivering 631 MWh of electricity and leading to a reduction of approximately 271 tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum.
The Share Offer opened on 24 October and closes on 5 December 2012. The project raised over £50,000 towards £1 million Solar share offer in the first week.
Andy Heald, Director at Generation Community, explained how partner countries such as Germany and Denmark have championed renewable energy development; however, in the UK community-owned renewables have not been fully explored.
He said such projects “are 'mini-banks' without any of the bankers, and are hugely significant for community engagement and localised energy generation.” He added “Gen Community is aiming to connect two communities for a low carbon purpose, to create a Generation Community."
Mr Heald also said that with the introduction of the Feed in Tariffs in April 2010 “the 'myth' of whether the technology works and what revenue it pays has been debunked.” He said the Internet has made crowd funding easier, and less geographically dependent.
The mission of Gen Community is to redistribute wealth, from communities who typically have poor locations for low carbon technologies, but have the desire or surplus capital to fund the deployment of low carbon projects to communities where good opportunities exist for deploying low-carbon technologies, but lack the capital necessary to develop such projects.
“For both communities, the 'Generation Community' is less reliant on fossil fuels, and community engagement are the principal benefits. At the same time, communities can own and benefit, from this low carbon production, making us better off, environmentally, socially and economically.” explained Andy Heald.
James Alexander, Chairman of Generation Community said: "I believe that by using this model, Gen Community is drawing on proven 19th Century co-operative concepts of social business to help solve 21st Century problems, such as fuel poverty, climate change and fossil fuel dependence. By invoking the spirit of co-operatives and mutuals Gen Community can help drive the community deployment of low carbon generating technologies."
Generation Community Directors Andy Heald and James Alexander, as well as Communications Manager Bethan Wynton, went to Co-operative United. Referring to the event, Andy Heald said:
“All three of us were at COOP2012, and enjoyed it. Our mentor, Mick Taylor, from Bringing Mutuality into the Public Sector, was a great host and introduced us to some inspirational people.”