We’ve tried to anticipate any questions you might have about Energise Barnsley and our projects. If your query isn’t answered in our FAQs, please contact us and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
Will every council property be able to have solar panels eventually?
- There are a number of factors that will determine if a property can receive solar panels – the orientation of the roof, roof space available and if there is enough capacity on the electricity network to cope with the new system.
- This may mean that some properties may not be able to have solar panels.
- This project is about providing benefits for the wider community through the fund, and providing renewable energy for them to benefit from.
- We also hope to work with residents in the future to provide other energy-saving technology, and help through other schemes like free insulation and boilers.
Will British Gas continue to have any involvement once the solar panels are installed?
- Yes – they will oversee operations and maintenance for the project for the next ten years.
Do we have any local contractors on board?
- Yes, we have local contractors working with us
- We paid for, and trained members of Berneslai Homes to liase with tenants about the solar PV installations.
How will the new installations benefit the council?
- The solar panel installations will reduce carbon emissions across the borough, reduce electricity bills, and help the council transit to a low carbon economy.
Can you explain a little more about the involvement of Ignite?
- Ignite provided loan capital of £2m to help the Energise Barnsley scheme fund the first phase of the project. This will be repaid through the solar bond offer and feed in tariff payments.
- Without this capital the project would not have proceeded, due to the time constraints caused by the changing energy policy.
- Ignite is the UK’s first impact investment fund with a focus on energy.
- Ignite invests people and money into emerging and mature organisations that have a clear vision of how they benefit society. By focussing on energy, Ignite is driving innovation at every point of the energy chain – from sourcing and generation through to supply, service and saving energy. And by investing in social enterprises Ignite is making a positive impact on employment, income, housing and local communities.
- With backing from Centrica, Ignite is providing funding of £10 million to a number of projects over the next ten years, and will make investments of between £50k and £2m
How has the project been affected by changes to renewable subsidies?
- The main impact is that we have not been able to install on as many properties as we had planned.
- All 321 homes were installed before the changes to the feed in tariff were brought into force.
- Last year Energise Barnsley ‘locked into’ a community tariff for the commercial buildings, which is valid until September 2016. This means that installations taking place now will still benefit from the higher rate of subsidy. We expect all installations to be completed by September.
- In the future we plan to work with other technologies and project structures to meet the changing levels of subsidies available. This fundamentally should not stop the growth of Energise Barnsley as technologies develop and costs continue to decrease.
You originally said you were looking to install solar on approximately 5,000 buildings – what’s happened?
- Energise Barnsley launched on 27 August 2015; the same day the government announced a review of the Feed In Tariff scheme. This would have stopped the project, but underwriting from Ignite meant that we could continue.
- We have been growing the project in the line with the funding we have received or plan to raise.
- Structural and technical restrictions have meant that some buildings and homes have been identified as unsuitable for installation.
- In order to put solar PV on a roof and to make it most effective, the roof needs to face south, be structurally sound, have the right legal permissions and agreement from the tenants, and have acceptance from the grid operator (Northern Powergrid) to install. Energise Barnsley started with a large list of buildings which reduced in size as properties failed these criteria .
- We can only install a maximum 50kilo watt peak per roof, even if the roof could support more solar PV. The restriction was placed on the project by change to government policy in the Autumn of 2015.
- Once we’ve installed on all of the schools and community buildings, we will have installed panels on 321 residential houses and approximately 30 commercial buildings (schools and sheltered housing blocks).
Lots of other community groups are installing ground-mounted solar, but you’ve gone for rooftop installations. Why?
- We believe that rooftop solar installations offer a far greater social impact for the community versus a ground-mounted approach. It means that local residents can directly benefit from the installation, either through lower energy bills or through the community fund. The energy generated isn’t simply provided into the grid for use elsewhere.
Who will be able to apply for the community fund?
- Social enterprises and local community organisations in the Barnsley area will be able to apply via the Energise Barnsley website.
How do people invest in the project?
- Details about how to invest can be found on the Ethex website www.ethex.org.uk/eb.
You say this is the largest project of its kind in the UK – is this true?
- Yes – it is the largest rooftop solar community energy project in the UK. There are 321 households in this project, in addition to the commercial properties. The previous largest community energy project was Chase Community at 314 residential rooftops.
Why are you allowing Barnsley residents to invest for less than others? Who qualifies?
- We want to give local people the opportunity to take ownership of the energy infrastructure in their town, and benefit from the returns.
- By offering a lower minimum investment, we hope this will enable more residents to participate in the scheme.
- We decided upon the value of £100 because any lower and the cost to administer the payments to the individual would outweigh the benefit to the society.
- Those residents with postcodes S70 through to S75 will be able to invest for less than others.
If you can’t find an answer to your question please contact us and we’ll be pleased to help.