Bhesco launches £580k bond offer for solar on Brighton and Hove schools

The co-op says the funds will support new solar installations on five schools and three SMEs

Brighton and Hove Energy Services Co-op (Bhesco) has launched a £580,000 bond offer for the installation of solar panels on five schools in its area.

“Long-term affordable energy security requires local clean energy systems, owned by and run in the interests of the communities they serve,” says the co-op, which has developed several new projects “which introduce innovative solutions such as sharing solar electricity generation between neighbouring properties”.

It says the new projects will:

  • fund the installation solar systems on five schools with a combined 260kWp capacity
  • Save the schools £3.1m on energy bills and mitigate 2,700 tonnes of CO2 over the lifetime of the solar arrays
  • Fund a further three carbon-saving solar projects on SMEs in the Sussex area
  • Support the development of an innovative solar electricity shared distribution system between neighbouring SMEs.

This builds on Bhesco’s work since 2015 which, the co-op says, has:

  • developed 59 community-focused carbon reduction projects
  • raised £1.5m of investment to fund community energy initiatives
  • achieved 7,655 tonnes of CO2 savings across the projects’ lifetimes
  • saved £2m in energy costs across all projects
  • completed 2,000+ energy efficiency surveys

It warns that the offer is a ‘high risk investment’ and advises those interested to consult its risk information page on the share offer page, hosted by Ethex.

Minimum investment per applicant is £1,000, maximum £100,000. Nominal value is £1 per bond, and
target interest rate 5% per annum.

Related: Community energy sector meets to discuss challenges of the carbon transition

Co-op CEO Kayla Ente said: “Your money will provide an attractive financial return, while enabling us to develop carbon reduction projects that demonstrate the power of community energy.

“We are currently seeking funding to install solar panels on five council-owned schools in the area. On average, we expect these solar arrays to meet around 77% of the schools’ electricity needs, bringing savings of around £1.85m over the next 25 years.

“These projects also send a clear message to children that their institutions are committed to their future wellbeing. We will work with teachers to help embed the science of renewable energy into their curriculum.

“By generating their own clean energy on-site, the schools will make a big reduction in their environmental impact. We estimate that the combined carbon emission savings from these projects is equivalent to the emissions from 3,258,271 miles driven by a petrol-powered car.

“With the funding raised via this bond offer, we will also install solar panels for SMEs in a business park and an industrial estate (along with energy sharing capability) and a leisure centre.“

The offer document can be downloaded here