MECISE

Edinburgh

Highlights

| solar
Edinburgh Community Solar, approcimately 25 buildings
1.4 MW peak
1.100 MWh/y
1600 k€

This solar roof project is the biggest producing scheme of its kind to be owned by a community in the UK.  The Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative worked in partnership with City of Edinburgh Council and Energy4All with RESCoop to install solar PV on 24 public buildings in the city.  Schools, liesure and community buidlings were selected to host the panels and a community benefit fund has been created to help reduce carbon emissions of the host buildings and provide education tools for young people.  The project was initiated in 2012 by a grass roots organisaton whose objective was to deliver community energy projects in Edinburgh.  After sturggling to get wind and biomass projects off the ground they decided to investigate solar.  It was considered to be viable if a good number of south facing rooftops could be secured on buildings with a good electricity demand.  The local authority was considered to be a good prospect because they owned a lot of properties in the city   A grant was secured from Local Energy Scotland to investigate the feasibility of a finacially viable scheme.  The Local Authority offered use of any of their buildings, but the group decided to focus on buildings which have a commuity purpose rather than office or administration buildings, so the project would be exposed to more members of the community.  It was therefore decided to focus on schools, community centres and leisure centres.  A list of 100 buildings were selected based on this criteria and in consideration of a condition survey that the Council had undertaken on all its properties.  Onsite Renewables, a local renewable energy consultant then completed a desktop study to select buildings with large South facing roofs and short-listed 36 potentially suitable buildings.  These buildings were then surveyed by Onsite renewables who produced a report estimating the capacity of each roof to support solar PV and the expected output.  This showed that a project of up to 25 buildings would be viable (more than 25 solar PV buildings owned by a single organisation would mean a drop in the FiT tarriff).  The group then had to form a Society for the Benefit of the Community (a co-op) since it was agreed that the best way to raise capital was with a public share offer.  Once registered in December 2013, the newly formed Edinburgh Commuity Solar Co-op had to get permission from the Local Authority before it was able to apply for a CARES loan from the Scottish Goverment.  Energy4All were engaged by the group to give confidence to the Local Authority that a professioanl organisation with a track record for helping communities to deliver projects at this scale was advising the Society.  The business model was further developed by Energy4All with Council staff and a report was delivered to elected members for approval.  This was granted in April 2015 and the Society could then secure the CARES loan which allowed it to make planning applictions, engage lawyers and procure an installer.  The loan also paid for Energy4All to manage the process of pulling together all the information required to produce a community share offer document and a marketing campaign to engage Edinburgh residents.  In September 2015 the share offer was launched at one of the host properties, a school where the pupils welcomed VIPs from the city who came along to help launch the scheme.  The event made front page of the Edinburgh Evening News that day and was featured on a local TV news programme.  After two months, the full £1.4m was raised and an installer was contracted.  In the UK once a FiT tariff has been granted, there is a 6 month deadline for the panels to be installed and commissioned.  The Government however recognises that communities take longer to raise capital than other organisations so a further 6 months is granted.  This proved useful as there were a number of delays, primarily having to change installer, then getting building surveys completed, apply for warrants and negotiating availability with all the building managers.  All panels were installed before the deadline of 30th September 2016 and the FiT secured.  The project has been generating well to date, however there has been a long drawn out process to replace some of the existing meters in the buildings that allow the Society to measure the exported electricity and therefore get paid by the energy companies for any surplus electricity that isn't used by the buildings.  

www.edinburghsolar.coop

Project timeline