As a social enterprise, Brighton Energy Coop is all about community investment in renewable energy – building new, shiny solar kit, funded by members of our community. We have hundreds of members from in and out of the Brighton area – together we’ve already built more than £1.5m of community-funded solar PV.
It’s a simple idea: basically everyone puts in a bit of cash and collectively we us this to build big solar energy systems. Brighton Energy Coop then takes the money from selling this solar electricity and distributes it to our community fund, interest to members and paying back capital. Our host sites benefit from the cheap electricity that our panels provide.
Community Investment in Brighton Solar
We raise money via investment from the wider community. By pooling resources it’s possible to raise large amounts of cash – other UK community energy organisations have raised as much as £20m of community investment for community energy projects in their locales.
To raise money and install solar panels we sell shares in in Brighton Energy Coop, a form of co-operative known as a Community Benefit Society (CBS). Shareholders become members of BEC. A CBS is radically different from a normal company – each member in the society has one vote, for example (regardless of the amount invested) and the maximum investment is £100,000.
Benefits of investing in Brighton Energy Co-operative
We aim to provide new members a return on investment of 5% a year, as we have for all our existing members, starting 12-18 months after each project is installed. 5% of capital is also available for repayment each year.
The minimum shareholding is £300 and the maximum is £100,000. For more details on becoming a Brighton Energy Co-operative member see here.
The Story of community energy in Brighton
Brighton community energy sprang to life in 2010. After six months of planning 8 people invested the start up capital that led to our first share launch in 2012. During this period 120 people joined BEC, and we built our first solar PV systems.
Since then we have been mentored by many different organisations and have achieved press coverage both locally and nationally. More than 500 people are now members of Brighton Energy Coop; we’ve raised nearly £1,500,000 and built many big solar PV systems.
For a detailed look at how we got started check out the Sussex University research project on BEC here.