How Five Hundred People are putting Free Solar on Brighton’s Schools
BEC in Brighton has raised £2.5m from 500 people to put free solar panels on local schools.
For schools like Woodingdean Primary School, that means an annual saving of more than £1000 on their electricity bill. Two miles from Brighton and where 240 panels were installed last month, the school has already saved 30 tonnes of carbon – the equivalent of planting approximately 30 trees.
Esme Brown joined when she heard about the schools project said: “there is so much roofspace on Brighton’s buildings. It seems crazy there’s so little solar there. So when I heard about the schools project, I joined. I’ve only invested £1000, but it’s something.”
To raise money people buy shares in Brighton-based Brighton Energy Coop. BEC pays its members 5% interest each year – the minimum shareholding is £300 and the maximum is £100,000.
The money is then used to install solar panels on Brighton schools. Schools pay a discounted rate for their electricity, and at the end of the project lifetime the solar system is donated to the school.
How We Raise Money
We raise money via investment from the wider community. By pooling resources it’s possible to raise large amounts of cash – other UK energy co-ops have raised as much as £20m for community energy projects.
We do this by selling shares in our legal entity, Brighton Energy Limited, a Social Enterprise. A Social Enterprise 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.
Becoming a Member
All members get a 5% interest on their investments, and we also fund other community groups that work on renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Your membership helps build more renewable power, as well as sharing the benefit into our community.
Our Solar Partners
These organisations benefit via cheap clean electricity which our panels provide.
Eleven thousand people (and rising!} are members of energy coops in the UK, part of a huge grassroots effort to develop local renewable energy.
If you’re interested in joining us, click here.
Have a look at this video to see what it means to become an energy coop member.
Have a look at this Webinar with BEC directors Damian Tow and Will Cottrell to see what it means to become an BEC member