Want to help generate clean solar power at community sites here in south-east London? South East London Community Energy would like you to think about investing in its latest share offer. RUTH BRADSHAW explains how you can help join a revolution…
A recent poll found that the majority of the UK public are deeply concerned about the climate crisis and believe policy makers should be taking radical action to tackle it. Many of us also want to take action individually and within our own communities to help combat climate change. It was a shared desire for a fairer, healthier, low-carbon future that led a group of local residents to set up South East London Community Energy (Selce) five years ago.
Selce is a not-for-profit, cooperatively owned, social enterprise which generates renewable energy that is not just produced locally but is owned and governed by the people who use it. Since 2014 the co-operative has raised over £360,000 through two share offers and has used the funds to provide solar power for seven primary schools in Lewisham and Greenwich boroughs. All those who invest in the share offers become members of Selce and there are currently 186 members, the majority of whom are based in south-east London.
Now there is an opportunity to join this community energy revolution by investing in Selce’s third share offer. This aims to raise a further £260,000 in order to bring solar power to four new sites – St Luke’s church, Downham; Thamesmere Leisure Centre in Thamesmead; Coldharbour Leisure Centre in Mottingham and a public art project on the Greenwich Peninsula.
The sites funded through the earlier share offers have already generated 639MWh of solar energy – enough to drive a Tesla S around the world almost three times. This has prevented 200 tonnes of carbon from being discharged into the atmosphere and saved the schools involved nearly £24,000.
In addition to supporting renewable energy generation, the co-operative also delivers pioneering, award-winning work on fuel poverty and energy efficiency. Since 2014, Selce’s experienced advisors have given energy-saving advice to nearly 2,600 households, identifying financial savings and helping them access discounts and grants for home energy improvements.
Investors in the latest share offer will receive a projected 3% annual interest payment on their share capital with full capital payment at, or before, the end of the 20 year life of the project. The minimum investment is £250 and the maximum is £20,000 and investors can ask Selce to return their investment after three years.
But this is not just about the financial benefits. Investors will also be helping to tackle the inequalities in our current energy system as any financial surplus from the solar projects is used to support Selce’s work to alleviate fuel poverty. There are other community benefits too as the project will help the solar sites to benefit from reduced electricity costs, allowing them to spend more money on their other activities.
Selce’s chair, Camilla Berens, said: “We’ve been able to develop this ‘everyone wins’ formula because of solar subsidies from the government. Unfortunately these subsidies have now been withdrawn so it’s our last chance to roll out more solar in south-east London for the foreseeable future.”
Selce is a community-based organisation which is only able to deliver as much as it does with the support of many dedicated volunteers. So there are lots of other ways to get involved in addition to investing, for example, by promoting the energy efficiency and fuel poverty work, helping run energy advice sessions or contributing to the running of the organisation. To find out more about current volunteering opportunities, visit Selce’s website or email info[at]selce.org.uk.
To mark the launch of the new share offer, Selce has invited green groups from across south-east London to an event to celebrate the work of community change makers and answer the question, what exactly can I do about climate change? This evening of talks and discussion takes place on Thursday 14 November at the New Haddo Hall in Tarves Way, Greenwich with speakers from a range of organisations including Swop, the packaging-free shop in Lee Green, Flight Free UK and London Wildlife Trust. There’ll also be an opportunity to find out more about the share offer. Tickets are free but need to be booked in advance.
The share offer closes on Saturday 30 November. For more information, including the full share offer document, visit www.selce.org.uk/se-solar/invest/ , email sunshine[at]selce.org.uk or call 020 8269 4882.