Sussex-centred green power volunteers Brighton Energy Co-operative have given the lie to fears of “investor fatigue” in raising funds for accountable, socially engaged power generation from the sun.

With base interest rates now topping 5% and setting the pace for small-scale retail investors, a few fund-raisers for citizen-controlled, low-carbon power had feared a waning in numbers of small investors willing to tie up sums of between £50 and £250 for two or more years.

The Brighton co-op’s fund raise knocked such apprehensions into the proverbial cocked hat.

Its first ever offer of a BEC Solar Bond raised £700,000 in just one month over the summer, the decade-old Sussex co-op reports in its winter newsletter.

Resolving last minute legal questions delayed the issue, but that didn’t dampen enthusiasm among the collective’s supporters for ethical investing, designed to reap high local, and high social impacts.

The fundraiser has paid for a giant 342kWp of solar capacity over ten roofs of Cardinal Newman Catholic School, a voluntary-aided mixed comprehensive in Hove, illustrated.

Further roofs at Shoreham Port also benefit. Its HQ building Nautilus House, plus adjacent Maritime House and the popular waterside Port Kitchen Cafe can now produce 120kW of carbon-saving solar electricity every year. An estimated 70% of the cafe’s previous bills will now be met by solar-generated electricity, adding to the venue’s already impressive efforts towards sustainability.

Thanks to the bond, a warehouse roof at Newhaven Port that will shortly be receiving PV panels.  Preferred installers Chester-headquartered Genfit were prominent in the installations.

Also adding to south coast sunshine is the Brighton volunteers’ Community Solar Accelerator.  Priming their own fund-raising with seed capital from the EU’s Regional Fund, the co-op paid out grants totalling £714,400 to 33 SMEs, mainly based in Sussex, saving at least part of bills as electricity costs rose at an all-time high.

Last month BEC member & documentary film-maker Vicki Lesley hosted a screening to over 150 members of ‘The Atom: A love affair’, her depiction of the nuclear industry and its interactions with society.

Also in October the co-op’s Community Fund manager Atlanta Cook give a ‘Local Energy Snapshot’ presentation at Brighton Town Hall to 40 students selected from five secondary schools.

Interest declared: The current writer invests in various local English energy co-operatives. Find your nearest one here.



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