Brixton Energy mentioned in Parliament

We were very happy to see Steve Reed (former leader of Lambeth council and newly elected MP for Croydon North) mentioning Brixton Energy in the House of Commons this week during the debate on the energy bill.


Skip ahead to 18:24 to watch Steve’s speech

Here is the full text of Steve’s speech:

This Bill misses an opportunity to support community energy cooperatives, and worse contains measures that will make them harder to establish.

Brixton Solar Energy 1 was the country’s first urban energy generation cooperative. It was set up by the community in Brixton working in cooperation with Lambeth Council – which I was leading until earlier this month.

Solar power generation is not feasible on the majority of houses because they face the wrong way, suffer from shading from chimneys or other structures, or are too small. Collective schemes like Brixton Solar Energy are far better. To work, they require partnership working. Solar panels are more likely to be financially viable when they are built on social housing blocks, schools or other public buildings, churches or businesses which have larger roof space facing the sun.

Brixton Solar 1 was built on the roof of a social housing block on the Loughborough Park Estate in Brixton. Brixton Solar 2 is being built now on another part of the same housing estate. A third scheme is planned for another estate in the area. The schemes are funded by community subscription and offer a 3% return to investors, most of whom are local. They are also part-resourced by the local authority which makes the buildings available.

These projects tackle fuel poverty by offering lower energy prices to residents who benefit from the feed-in tariff. They reduce carbon emissions by generating energy sustainably, and some of the profits generated are invested in schemes like draught busting, retrofitting buildings, home energy audits and training on energy efficiency. In addition, they build social capital, bring communities together, and keep profits circulating in the local community in a way that does not happen with the big energy companies.

Instead of supporting schemes like this, the Bill offers smaller community generators lower market prices for their power, making them less financially viable and failing to recognise the administration costs needed to run them. It also ends the Renewables Obligation meaning that suppliers have no incentive to purchase from independent generators like Brixton Solar Energy.

The Bill should be amended to increase the fixed feed-in tariff threshold for community projects; guarantee a market for community energy schemes; and set a minimum annual target for new generation capacity from community schemes. I’d also like to see local authorities incentivised to lower overall household carbon emissions in their area which they could do, in part, by supporting projects like Brixton Solar Energy.

The Government should recognise the benefits of cooperative energy generation projects in tackling fuel poverty and promoting sustainability, but instead of acting to help them this Bill will help kill them off.

Fundraising for the second community solar energy project in Brixton

On Tuesday night, we held a fundraising event to raise awareness for Brixton’s second innovative urban community-owned solar energy project, Brixton Solar Energy 2. The event brought together local people, Councillors, investors and installers, all united by a shared belief in the need for community-owned clean energy generation.

The UK’s first inner city community-owned solar energy project on social housing, Brixton Energy Solar 1, has exceeded predicted energy generation by over a quarter. Speaking at the event, Afsheen Kabir Rashid, Lambeth Community Energy Officer, discussed the success of Brixton’s first solar project, and encouraged investors to become a part of Brixton Solar Energy 2, which has already attracted over £32,000 and is looking to raise a further £29,000 by October 23rd.

Other speakers gave some of their time to explain why they’re supporting Brixton Energy – Lib Peck, Lambeth Councillor for Regeneration and Strategic Housing, highlighted how recent hikes in fuel prices and impending changes to welfare reforms could push even more local people into fuel poverty. “This underscores the need for local clean energy production and investment in ground-breaking projects like Brixton Energy Solar 2 that can lead to job creation and a more resilient local community,” she said.

Matt Man from Southern Solar commented, “I can’t actually believe we’re installing the second project already, but we are!” He highlighted the need for more people to have a better awareness of the resources they use in their daily lives and to adopt more energy efficient behaviour.

The visionary co-founder and project manager of Brixton Energy, Agamemnon Otero, told the audience how one local 17 year old student put her electrical engineering skills to the test by helping with the installation of Brixton Energy Solar 2’s solar panels this week on Styles Gardens’ roof, Loughborough Estate. Involving local residents wherever possible is an important goal for the project and it is hoped that more local people will get involved. Certainly, as word spreads about the success of the first solar project, he’s noticed more people asking questions about how they can get involved in the second project, and seeking information on clean energy and how it could benefit them.

Agamemnon Otero & Fay Gordon

Loughborough Estate resident and investor Mrs Fay Gordon highlighted the need for apprenticeships to help address unemployment among young local residents. She believes in the importance of “never giving up – and trying something new” and sees this sense of hope and entrepreneurialism reflected in the Brixton Energy solar projects. With friends suffering from health issues caused by air pollution from living near busy roads, she also appreciates the need for emission free energy generation.

The Brixton Energy team

Tuesday night’s event was a celebration of Brixton Energy, a Repowering South London project, and its successes to date. It was also an opportunity to reiterate that this community project is proving a success thanks to the time and dedication of a handful of local people. As the event demonstrated, that handful has grown to a roomful, and now with momentum building following the success of the first solar project, there’s never been a better time to invest in a project that gives you a guaranteed rate of return over the next twenty years, and brings tangible benefits to the local community.

If you are interested in investing you can apply for shares now using our online form.

(Thanks to Tim Mitchell for the great photos).

Brixton Energy: good for the environment and for your wallet

We are delighted to announce that Brixton Energy Solar 2 has been successful in its application for the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). This means that if you are a UK taxpayer you will be able to claim back 50% of your investment as a tax deduction in year one!!

Our focus has always been on the social and environmental benefits of our projects, but it is great to able to offer our co-operative members such a good return on their investment.

Indicative return

3%

dividend per year

50%

tax relief via SEIS in year 1

+ 1%

per year raised for the CEEF

We estimate that the project would provide an average annual return on investment of approximately 3.05% and additionally you will be able to claim a 50% lump sum tax deduction in year one.

Illustrative example

Initial investment: £1,000
Tax relief year 1 (via the SEIS scheme): £500
Dividends over 20 years: £600 (£30 per year * 20 years)
Return of initial investment after 20 years: £1,000
Total returns over 20 years: £2,100
In addition your investment will enable: Contribution to the Community Energy Efficiency Fund: £200

The figures above are for illustration only. We recommend you read the accompanying Share Offer Document.

You can apply for shares now using our online form.

Find out more

If you have more questions about the project why not come along and meet us? Brixton Energy is having a fundraising party for our Solar 2 project tomorrow (Tuesday, 16th October 2012)!

It will be held at the:
Electric Social 40 Acre Lane, London, SW2 5SP
between 7-10pm.

All are welcome. Lovely canapés and drinks will be served:

  • Become a Brixton Energy Co-op member and be a part of it!
  • Hear the story of local residents and people working on the project.
  • Find out how your investment will help the local community.

 

Brixton Energy Solar 1 Energy Generated vs Predicted Energy Generation

We are now raising money for our second cooperative so it is the ideal time to look back and analyse the current performance of Brixton Energy Solar 1 (BES1). The graph below shows the estimated energy generation (for the period the project has been active) versus the actual energy generation (which can be viewed live online).

Energy Generated vs Predicted

Energy generated vs Predicted

Since the panels were connected to the grid on 23rd April until the 12th September, BES1 has generated 19,414 kWh (enough to boil 129,427 kettles or power 5.6 UK homes for a year). On average BES1 has exceeded its energy generation by 28% this Summer. It hasn’t even been that sunny has it!?

This year we have already achieved 70% of the estimated annual energy generation without even having generated anything during the first 3 months of the year!

Our conservative estimates put us in a great position to be confident that BES2 will be just as successful as BES1.

Take control of your energy with Brixton Energy Solar 2

This summer I happened to drive through Brandenburg, Germany. As you descend down from the forests and slate covered houses of Thüringen an amazing vista opens out before you. Fields of solar panels and wind turbines, graceful and benign, part of a nationwide infrastructure that supplies Germany on a good day with up to a third of its electrical needs. It’s not just that they get a little bit more sun, the government gets it.

With the big six energy companies controlling 99% of the electricity market and our government horse blinkered towards nuclear it is hard not to feel a little despondent upon returning home. Then a solution stares you in the face.

Brixton Energy solar 2 launched their share offer! A community owned solar power station for decentralised, democratically controlled, renewable energy in Brixton. The Repowering South London team have done it again and this time proved there is another way that will let us take control of our own energy, make it renewable and do so in a sustainable and replicable fashion!

To find out what it’s all about go to their website. This will be another 45kWp added to Brixton’s renewable energy generation capacity and they have already raised £7,250 of the amount. I have invested in Solar 1, will be investing in Solar 2 and you should too. You can even invest with Brixton Pounds!

If you have some in the bank, put a bit of it on the roof and feel, as you should, damn good about it.

Solar skills for South London

One of the main aims of Brixton Energy is to develop in the community the skills we will need to make a cleaner, better future. Kevin, a Loughborough Estate resident, got involved in the project and helped Southern Solar when they installed the solar panels on the roof of Elmore House. Here is his story:

Aga, Afsheen and me

It seems the Gods of clean energy were shining on us that week.

Imagine been on the roof of a tall block of flats, the sun shining, with a great view of London, breathtaking is what I call it.

It was a very rewarding experience, working with a great bunch of guys (Big up Matt and the boys from Southern Solar).

Do something you enjoy doing and you won’t have to work a day in your life, says the old Chinese proverb and that’s what it seemed like to me. Although we were actually installing the solar panels for me it was just having fun. The hard graft was inconsequential. It was more like a solar farm, planting solar seeds and watching them come to fruition within a week.

Absolutely amazing!!!

Brixton Energy Solar1 team members visiting, seeing how the installation was progressing.

Residents enquiring, what was going on, on the roof of their block?

Installers and Brixton Energy team members explaining the concept and rewards of solar power.

Damn! It felt good! Was buzzing for a week! No kidding.

With me living on the estate, it couldn’t have been a better job for me! Walking 100 meters to work! Going home for lunch! How’s that for a Job! I even manage to walk over to my place and let some workmen in.(there were no sorry we miss me note that time).

A roof with a view

Then came launching day and the hoopla, I mean media circus and all, newspapers, TV stations, Radio stations, Budding journalists……the interviews the cameras, the spotlight…. Makes me think “We could be on to something here”.

Massive respect  the entire Brixton Energy team, including to Agamemnon & to Kevin who did these ITV interviews!

and to Southern Solar Ltd who provided the panels & design

Biggin’ up Afsheen Rashid too, who did this interview for BBC Radio London.

So with the help of the Brixton Energy Solar1 team and the wider Brixton public we aim to move forward.

When my friends and associates says to me “Yo Kev! we seen you on TV”, I’m like “Yeah, you wanna  be seen, you gotta go green”.

Once again thanks to all the Brixton Energy Solar1 team members, members of the public and wellwishers for making happen.

Check out what’s happening @  http://brixtonenergy.co.uk/blog

It’s “Move yo Money Month” I know where I am putting mine!

My name is Jason, I’m a 35 year old software developer. I have lived in Brixton for the last nine years and love the area. I have just invested in the Brixton Energy scheme and want to tell you why – in the hope that you will too.

My previous attempt at an ethical investment

About seven years ago I had some spare money to invest and put it in an ecological stock market investment fund. I wanted to know my capital was being used for causes I believed in and to help build a sustainable future. Naturally enough, I also wanted to make a few quid! How did the fund worked out? Well as everybody knows the stock market went down the toilet. Over the last seven years my investment hasn’t even kept up with inflation.

"We all know what happened with the stock market"

A nagging feeling from the very beginning was that a sizeable chunk of my money went to pay the fund managers salary. I doubt they were bad people but given what we have learnt about stock market excess and bonuses. I can’t help but feel that some of my hard earned money was squandered on Champagne, cigars and class As. It felt like I was investing my money in a broken financial system that contributes to inequality and environmental destruction.

Plus I was totally disconnected from my investment. As it was an ecological fund at least I knew my money had not been given to Lockheed Martin or British Tobacco but a company like East Japan Railway doesn’t pop up much in my day to day life.

Why I am investing in Brixton Energy

  1. This is a real way to be part of a real change for the environment. Like lots of people a couple of years ago I did lots of small things around my flat, like change light bulbs and recycling. I was left feeling a bit apathetic after that. What to do next? Brixton energy is the first scheme I have seen where I feel we can take action to tackle climate change.
  2. I believe solar power is a technology that will create a cleaner better world. I would love to put solar panels on the roof of my flat but I don’t own my flat so I can’t.
  3. I want to invest in a local scheme that I can be a part of, where every investor gets a vote.
  4. I will know everytime I walk past Loughborough Estate I will have made a difference to my local community.
  5. It is not just about solar power. The profits from the scheme will help promote energy efficiency in the area ensuring the energy we generate isn’t wasted.

What I’m doing and what I hope you will do too

So this week I closed my ecological stock market investment fund. I’m going to invest my money in Brixton Energy instead. If you are thinking about investing in an ISA or an ethical investment fund or have some money lying around please ask yourself whether Brixton Energy would be a more rewarding place to invest your money.

letter of renunciation

Becoming a Shareholder – tales from our investors.

As the Brixton Energy Solar 1 Share Offer opened last week, people in the community began stepping forward to purchase shares. This week we embarked on sharing their personal stories with you. The first investing experience was from  south London resident Susan Sheehan.

“There has been a real buzz around the office this week about the Brixton Energy share issue. Personally handing over the money and the form for my shares was strangely emotional. I have never owned shares before and it is not something I would have ever considered.

The real bonus though is that this feels completely right. I have been pondering solar panels on my own house for several years and I simply don’t have the right roof. It would also cost me a lot more money than I have put into Brixton Energy – the minimum investment is just £250. I would have to spend 40 times that to get any meaningful amount of solar panels on my house.

I have also raised money in my community to put solar panels on the school roof – and although I have an enormous sense of pride about that I don’t actually have much of a connection with them any more – they just sit there. I don’t know how they are performing, how much carbon they are offsetting… nothing. They just look nice.

I feel excited that this is just the beginning – setting up this project has been extremely complex – the real value comes from getting this one done and being able to move quickly on to the next.. Perhaps more solar panels for my local school’s roof.”  warm regards, Sue

If you have invested  and would like to share your story we at Brixton Energy  would enjoy hearing about it.

Sincerely, Team Brixton Energy 

Share Offer Launch

After days, weeks, months…. & many long nights, the Share Offer is done!

And its all thanks to our amazing volunteers!!!!

While some of our volunteers are high flying business executives, the majority are either average people struggling or even unemployed. Regardless of their current welfare, all have brought and continue to bring many gifts! We have a diverse range of expertise beyond the normal wash, clean, cook, garden and feed, we have; energy efficiency, renewable energy, research, legal, project management, journalism, engineering, web development, communications, grant writing, finance and business development. But most importantly, we can boast enthusiasm, and the courage to attempt courteous group dialogue around really hard issues of social welfare.

Brixton Energy Solar 1 is a true community project infused with co-operation, hard work and a year of dedication. Help us make BrixtonEnergy a shining example of inner city community resilience for the next 25 years.

“How do I do it?” you ask us? Please read through our Share Offer and invest £250- £20,000. If £250 is out of your range why not get a bunch of friends together and chip in. Just designate one of yourselves to be the share holding member. And conversely if 20,000 is no skin off your back please consider allocate your annual share payment fully to our Community Energy Efficiency fund.

Kind Regards

Team BrixtonEnergy Solar 1
Power to the people by the people

Brixton Energy Solar 1: building a sustainable future

As we get ever closer to the launch of our Share Offer, the excitement and sense of achievement increases.

And it is an achievement!

Yes we had between us a huge amount of knowledge and expertise, but over the last few months we have had to talk with a huge number of different people and come to grips with a whole lot of other areas such as co-operative bank accounts, VAT, the planning process, the uncertainty around FITs for community energy projects, leases, contracts and excursions into the PR world. One member noted when she joined the group about 6 weeks after being made redundant she was very pleased with the affirming group she had become apart of. “Everyone is so positive and each new unforeseen difficulty or new situation has been greeted by a ‘can do’ attitude from at least one member of the group offering information or ideas as to where we can seek advice.”

We meet once a week (in a variety of Brixton pubs) and the meetings are always lively and productive. The majority of us are there because of a combination of wanting to find solutions to producing energy post oil and fossil fuels running out and also and, perhaps more importantly, wanting to take control of how we produce some of our energy away from the big energy companies and back into the hands of the community.

Becky Payne Brixton Energy Solar 1 official Secretary noted, “This has been a great learning experience in all manner of ways and from here we can move on to install yet more panels on Brixton roofs. I for one will be making an investment and hopefully, not just in Brixton Energy Solar 1, but in Brixton Energy Solar 2, 3 & 4!”