Stroud is one of just three areas chosen for launching an exciting new nationwide project to install solar panels on commercial and community rooftops to tackle climate change.
Big Solar Co-op (BSC) is a national community energy organisation aiming to unlock the huge potential of rooftop solar for cutting carbon emissions. Its target is to install 100MW by 2030 (equivalent to the energy used by about 30,000 homes).
The Big Solar Co-op is working with Transition Stroud to achieve a local target of 400kW of rooftop solar energy within the first year. That’s about 8 tennis courts’ worth of roof space.
Rodborough resident Maria Ardley has been appointed as the Big Solar Co-op’s local coordinator. Maria Ardley said: “Like the rest of the UK, Stroud experienced record high temperatures this week showing how urgently we need to take action on climate change. There are plenty of large rooftops in the area which could host solar panels. As a non-profit group, the Big Solar Co-op offers an attractive proposition for building managers and owners as there are no capital costs, but big financial and carbon savings to be made.”
Fred Barker, a director of Transition Stroud, said: “This collaboration offers us a great opportunity to see more solar put onto the roofs of large buildings in Stroud, thereby helping to meet our target of net zero carbon emissions across the district by 2030, as well as saving building-owners money on their energy bills.”
Jon Hallé, co-founder, Big Solar Co-op, said: “We’ve come up with an offer which is much more appealing to big energy users than commercial rent-a-roof schemes. Our terms are more flexible and as a carbon-first organisation we are not taking big profits out so the savings to host sites are significant.
“We also have a great offer for volunteers who want to make more solar happen in their neighbourhood. By operating across the UK and providing support through a broad network we can make it happen together and make a difference to climate change.”
As a rough guide, suitable rooftops need to be south, east or west-facing and in sound condition, with a surface area around the size of a tennis court (300m²). The building will also need to have significant daytime electricity usage throughout the year.
Maria Ardley added: “There’s no cost or obligation for the initial survey. We’ll work with building owners to show them how much they can save both in terms of electricity bills and carbon emissions. We also raise the capital needed through community shares and arrange installation. BSC then owns, monitors and manages the solar array.
“We’d really like to hear from people who have suitable rooftops. And if you haven’t got a roof to offer, you can support us by buying shares.”
In order to fund its first solar installations, the Big Solar Co-op has just launched its first share offer which is open to residents of Stroud and others across the UK to invest. This aims to raise £1.2 million to build the first three solar installations and continue to develop a pipeline of rooftop arrays in Stroud and elsewhere.
The share offer aims to pay investors a target annual return of 4%, with the first interest payment payable in autumn 2024. The minimum investment is £100 and the maximum is £100,000. Share interest will be tax-free for some shareholders under the Personal Savings Allowance scheme and shares can be passed on free of Inheritance Tax.