May 2013 – 1st birthday

Award winning Gloucestershire Community Energy Co-op’s 1st birthday is celebrated by members

23rd May 2013

City Works with panels

Gloucestershire Community Energy Co-operative which formed in 2012 is celebrating its first dividend payout to members. Investors have received a 5% return, a far better investment today than a savings account and with the added environmental benefit – it certainly seems to pay to go green.

The Co-operative began when Gloucestershire Resource Centre based at City Works, Alfred Street,Gloucester wished to install solar photovoltaic (PV) panels but didn’t have the capital to fund the project.

In less than two months £105,000 was raised from local people who automatically became members of the Co-operative when they invested. The 186 solar panels were then installed and operational in time to take advantage of the premium Feed-in Tariff.

Richard Walter, GCEC Treasurer reports “In the 12 months since the PV panels were installed they have generated 37,500kWh. This is 97% of the amount we predicted and would be enough to supply 11 households with electricity for a year. The panels need daylight to generate electricity, and luckily aren’t too fussy about the rain, so even with the weather we had in 2012 this has been a real success”.

The Gloucestershire Resource Centre (GRC) owns the City Works building where it delivers its Scrapstore service and hires out conference and art facilities. The Scrapstore diverts clean waste materials from local businesses to be reused as art, craft, play and educational resources by local groups and schools.  City Works is also a base for fourteen other social enterprises including Fair Shares and Co-operative Futures. 

The electricity generated by the panels is used by all the City Works tenants, thus reducing their energy costs. Lin Mathews, Managing Director of the GRC said “Small social enterprise groups have to manage on tight budgets so being able to lower energy costs is a tremendous help. City Works is now making a valuable contribution to the local community and a low carbon sustainable future”.

All electricity not used by City Works is exported to the national grid earning additional income. A percentage of the income gets paid directly to City Works, while a small amount is held back for future maintenance and the remainder is paid out to the local investors who all made this project possible.

Gloucestershire Community Energy Co-op aims to further develop local renewable energy generation by working with community groups and when applicable local government.

Alison Crane, GCEC secretary, says “Our aim is to actively support local communities with their energy saving plans and reducing their fuel bills. However we also wish to develop local resilience in an unpredictable energy supply future. Local community energy generation is becoming one of the fastest energy growth areas in Europe and GCEC aim is to make sure Gloucestershire is not left behind”.

GCEC is now actively looking for new renewable projects; which might be small-scale hydro, wind turbines, solar PV panels and micro heat & power generation which is ideal for community buildings. If you have a need, like City Works, but don’t know how to fund your project then maybe GCEC can help.

 

Background

[1] Gloucestershire Community Energy Co-operative (GCEC) aims to develop local renewable energy generation. In 2012 GCEC launched the first share offer for solar photovoltaic panels on the roof of the City Works building in Gloucester. It currently has 49 members who are all shareholders. GCEC won a Gloucester Civic Award for this scheme. GCEC is now looking for new projects within the county.

[2] Ofgem’s figure for typical household consumption is 3,300kWh/year, so we’ve produced enough to keep over 11 homes supplied with electricity.

[3] The Feed-in Tariff is the money you receive from your supplier for generating your own electricity. For more information see: https://www.gov.uk/feed-in-tariffs/overview

[4] The website for the Gloucester Resource Centre is www.grcltd.org