Community solar to pump benefits across west London

North Kensington Community Energy is installing solar in a disadvantaged area of London to pump money into the community and do other good stuff. We met one of the team.

At 9.30am on a dark December Tuesday, 1010HQ was lit up by Dave Fuller. Who is Dave Fuller and why is he glowing you may ask. Well, Dave is a dance-lover and he’s glowing because the three-year old project, North Kensington Community Energy (NKCE), is finally getting off the ground.

Like many of us, Dave used to get really down about the climate change. What dragged Dave from the dumps? The ‘can-do attitude’ of community energy. Community-owned energy initiatives range hugely, but as Dave explained, ‘all of these opportunities are an opportunity to start to take control of this really big scary thing’.

We know the public want renewables, and through community energy projects, they are making sure they get it.

NKCE is the first of its kind in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. After a year of ‘sorting out the tech’, NKCE is all set to install solar panels on 2 primary schools and a community centre. The electricity generated will both help to power the buildings and create a local community fund. With the buildings spread across the borough, Dave knows the benefits will keep expanding; ‘more people will get involved, more ideas will be heard, and more solar panels will be installed’.

More hope. Less carbon. Great.  

‘It could be exponential, but we’ve got to get past phase one’

First things first, the panels need to be bought and installed. It is now up to the great British public to make this happen, hence the share offer.

Over twenty year project life-cycle, profits will pay shareholders back for their investments (with an average 3% interest), and about 50% (an estimated £28,000) will go straight back into local projects. To put it simply, this share offer gives members of the UK public an opportunity to support a social, financial and environmental project - all in one investment of anything from £100 to £20,000.

Benefits go beyond the climate awareness (and associated behaviour changes) triggered by giving people direct access to the energy they use. Although where this will go is unknown, ideas for how the community fund might be used have been flowing. Possibilities include more great work with young people, tackling fuel poverty through social housing, and finding solutions to the road that makes the borough one of the most polluted in London.

So there’s plenty to be excited about. But for any of these imagined benefits to be made real, the panels need to get generating. And that means investment.

To read more about the project and find out how to invest visit www.repowering.org.uk/projects/NKCE.

 NKCE are working with schools to engage young people in solar-science experiments

NKCE are working with schools to engage young people in solar-science experiments