SOLESCO grew from the Transition Chichester (TC) energy group. The energy group has been busy on home-oriented projects, such as distributing over 100 energy monitors, but it grew a more ambitious vision to develop community owned renewable energy generation. Harnessing the combined investment power of individuals in the community, with the commercial strength of local partners working out of local premises, and Government funded support, in the form of the Feed-in-Tariff (FIT). The initial projects will use solar panels, known in the trade as photovoltaics (PV), which are an existing and well-proven renewable technology. In Germany and Denmark such community based projects have already been in place for years.
The energy group saw how OVESCO had formed out of Transition Town Lewes to do exactly this. Its first partner organisation, Harvey’s Brewery, owned a large roof where solar panels could be installed facing the right way to capture maximum sunlight. The brewery also had a large electricity demand which peaked when the sun shone, due to its refrigeration requirements.
OVESCO arranged and paid for the installation of the panels, raising the money by offering shares to the community – individuals were invited to invest a minimum of £250 each. The Share issue was over-subscribed, so further projects were developed.
The PV system generates electricity and gets an income from the Government Feed In Tariff (FIT) incentive scheme. This income means the shareholders receive a competitive dividend and the brewery benefits from free electricity!
SOLESCO is part of a Government funded mentoring programme run by OVESCO through Community Energy South (CES), an umbrella organisation formed to bring together energy coops in the south of England. SOLESCO is not alone – we are one of 10 groups in Sussex with similar projects in various stages of development.
After months of careful research and calculation, we are now in advanced talks with a suitable partner for an exciting first project. Negotiations are currently aimed at giving the partner subsidised electricity (for a period of 20 years), with investors receiving up to 5% dividend over the period of the agreement.
SOLESCO plans to raise the necessary capital by means of a share offer which will be open to the general public. Watch out for our share prospectus for this and for future similar schemes.