Case Study – Directly invest in renewable energy

February 3, 2015

With Global Divestment Day just over two weeks away, another option to consider when divesting your money away from fossil fuels is community energy. Many community energy projects offer a fair return on your money but also have a tangible social impact on the communities they serve and help them make the switch to renewable energy sources.

Chase Community Solar is one such project and the approach it has taken is an innovative one. Funded by a community share offer, the group is working alongside Cannock Chase Council to install PV solar panels on the roofs of 300 council-owned homes in Staffordshire.

Homes

Mike Kinghan MBE, Chair of Chase Community Solar, explains: “We believe this is the first community energy project in the UK focusing on giving free electricity to low income households. We hope it will blaze the way for further community energy projects with councils and other social housing providers. There are many more social housing roofs across the UK and there is no reason why every suitable roof should not host solar PV.”

“With a minimum investment of just £100, this is a scheme everyone can benefit from. By buying a stake in CCS you can earn a fair return on your money (projected 7% average annual return over 20 years) while helping people in fuel poverty to save money on their energy bills, and reduce carbon emissions. Shareholders will also be helping build up a community fund to support other local projects to benefit the wider community.”

The short film below explains the project in more detail and includes interviews with local residents set to benefit from the solar panels.

The scheme is targeting investment of £750,000 and has currently raised over half a million pounds. The community shares are being offered through Ethex, the not-for-profit website designed to make it easier for people to invest directly in social impact businesses.

Ethex has already helped raise over £10 million for businesses and projects with a social or environmental mission – a concept it calls ‘positive investing’- so it was a natural fit with Chase Community Solar.

The project is also supported by Pure Leapfrog, a charity which provides social investment in the community energy sector. Its CEO, Robert Rabinowitz, says:

“Chase Community Solar is at the forefront of the national effort to scale up the community energy sector.  We hope that this project, which delivers cheaper, cleaner energy, will be a model for many others around the country.”

Investing in change

Investor

One of the project’s early investors is David Crosby, pictured above who lives near Lichfield. Mr Crosby is a strong supporter of renewable energy. He explains why he was moved to invest:

“I have invested in this great community project because it’s a unique chance to help pensioners with their electricity bills but also to make a good return as an investor. Such opportunities are, in my experience, rare!

“By using locally-generated solar power we can help cut down on the use of fossil fuels and reduce environmentally damaging carbon emissions and move away from our reliance on large corporations and imports to supply our energy needs.”

Chase Community Solar’s share offer closes on February 13th.

For more ethical investment options, read our Good Money pages on crowdfunding and Peer-to-Peer lending.

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