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London’s First Solar Powered Co-operatively Owned Social Housing Project

Known as Brixton Energy Solar 1, the community group have had the initial stage of solar panels installed covering many hundreds of square metres on Elmore House’s roof on the Loughborough Estate, Brixton.

Eighty-one people, who mainly reside in the locality, have raised £58,000 in under a month investing amounts from £250 up to £20,000. In return they will receive community shares that will produce a return to those who have invested of anything approaching 3% per annum.

Project Manager, Director and Co-founder, Agamemnon Otero of Brixton Energy and Repowering, South London said that the project was driven due to concern about climate change, social injustice and peak oil and gas prices.

He stated:”Concerned residents came together around a common goal of decentralised co-operatively owned renewable energy for the welfare of our neighbourhood.”

The 37.24 kWp solar system consists of 152 x 245w ET P660 solar panels that have been fitted next to a TRIC racking system and two Wagner & Co inverters.

Presently the communal spaces such as lifts and corridors will be powered by solar panels that will remove 13 tonnes of carbon each year. At the moment, even though a lower energy price has been agreed with the housing association, residents will not see a reduction in their bills due to the present metering and current housing bill systems.

The local communities response has been extremely positive with the project team contributing 2,200 hours in the past twelve months by attending meetings.

Mr Otero commented:”We have a diverse range of expertise beyond the normal ‘wash, clean, cook, garden and feed’ type, including research, legal, project management, journalism, engineering, web development, communications, grant writing, finance, sales, behavioural change and civil administration expertise, and more!”

Following various surveys carried out by the team the project has been well received by local residents. A door knocking survey was carried out on residents of Elmore House that revealed 90% were keen to save energy and 64% felt positively about the local community owning electricity generation.

Mr Etero further stated:”The community was of the utmost importance, as they made it happen!  In total, we had nine investors from the Loughborough estate, some 11% of all investors. In addition, 85% were from Lambeth and 98% from London.”

“While a few of us work in the renewable sector, the volunteer team that formed over the 15 months prior is the reason why this project has been so successful.  Most importantly, we can boast enthusiasm, and the courage to attempt courteous group dialogue around really hard issues of social welfare,” he said.

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