Prospects for Portfolio Expansion

In furtherance of BMBC net-zero carbon objectives, Energise Barnsley is seeking to extend its flagship portfolio of commercial-scale Solar PV assets to encompass several additional sites within the Barnsley area. As with previous projects, the environmental goals are twinned with social impact objectives in order to develop the ESG profile of the local authority and improve outcomes for embedded communities.

We retained Generation Community Ventures (GCV) to devise and propose an environmental & social impact strategy, centred around the extension of BMBC Solar PV capabilities in the region. Abridged versions of GCV’s initial feasibility studies may be read here:

Environmental & Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Report

Solar Irradiance Survey

GCV have also raised funding to carry their proposal through to investment ready status. The core elements are summarised below:

The project will provide Solar PV installations to a further 5 schools in rural Barnsley. The schools will pay no upfront cost and will benefit directly from renewable solar electricity at a significant discount to the market rate. The cost savings will be used by schools to fund teaching and learning aids, books, ICT equipment, essential special needs equipment, free breakfasts for pupils of deprived backgrounds, and further sustainability improvements to schools. The installations will also be accompanied by a display monitor inside the school building which will serve as a teaching aid for key topics including science, renewable energy, and the environment.

The project will be 100% owned by the community through the Energise Barnsley community benefit society (registered with the FCA no. 7180) which will also fund maintenance and insurance costs across its duration. The solar PV installations will occupy school roof-space (or ground-mount) by way of a lease or license contract that will be agreed with the landlords and other relevant parties. At the end of the lease term, the installations will be sold to the schools (or alternatively to the local authority) for a nominal fee of £1.

Any surplus revenue from the installations will be retained in a ringfenced community fund for local benefit (in this context ‘local’ will cover a 1.5 mile radius from each school building and/or the catchment area from which the majority of its pupils are drawn). The fund will be administered annually within a transparent governance framework which is based on clearly defined criteria and subject to a confirmatory vote by an independent board and local society members. Financial governance will be supported through the development of a financial model and by use of an external accountant to review revenue, spend, cash balance and tax liability.

The project will demonstrate concrete progress towards net-zero targets, while delivering measurable financial, social, and educational benefits to schools and their pupils.