One of Britain’s longest established community-accountable energy co-operatives has started to advertise projects seeking competitive bids from solar installers.

Brighton Energy Cooperative is advertising upcoming opportunities for systems of 30 kWp and bigger on private commercial roofs. For each opportunity, the tender list quotes estimated power consumption at the commercial premises, and includes deadlines for bids to be submitted.

Britain’s legion of small businesses installing PV have never been busier, currently peaking at the top of the industry’s notorious ‘solar coaster’.

In a habitually resilient sector, the difference this time is optimism that subsidy-free UK solar’s future is for the first time unimpeded by scepticism engineered covertly or overtly against it, or by Whitehall’s years of non-comprehension & indifference.  But a bonanza for installers’ leaves roof owners and project sponsors finding it hard to source good installers.

Far-sighted Brighton Co-op last year entered a partnership with its local enterprise partnership Coast to Capital, offering – even after Brexit – legacy grants of up to £25,000 sourced from the EU Regional Development Fund, encouraging small firms to install PV on premise roofs.

Advertising the co-op’s solar opportunities on commercial roofs is a requirement of the EU grant, Damian Tow, a spokesperson for the co-op explained.  On the suggestion of Abigail Dombey, then Brighton University’s environmental officer, the co-op had applied for the Brussels cash in the latter days of the UK’s membership.

It is believed that Brighton’s initiative is the first by a UK co-op to advertising solar opportunities on commercial roofs.   Oxford’s Low Carbon Hub had also received EU grants, in their case to conduct energy efficiency surveys.

Founded in 2010, Brighton Energy Cooperative has fund-raised for and facilitated around 3.6 MWp of co-operative PV now generating from 80 arrays and 40 sites, raising around £1.9 million.  Roughly half the built schemes are in the public sector, Tow confirmed.  The co-op’s current pipeline stands at around fifteen more sites.

Commercial power prices set to soar by 50% and more from this April, – and uncapped by Ofgem’s price cap which limits domestic tariffs only – are thought to be an additional factor in commercial firms’ growing enthusiasm for solar on their premises.

More details here.

Interest declared: The current writer is a member of, and invests in, several community energy co-operatives. Brighton Energy Cooperative is among them.


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