Brixton Energy is a not-for-profit cooperative initiative to produce renewable energy through solar PV panels in the South London area of Brixton. It is an example of a so-called REScoop (Renewable Energy Sources COOPerative). The program has allowed the creation of cooperatively owned renewable energy projects, called Brixton Energy Solar 1, Solar 2 and Solar 3. For each of them, a cooperative limited society, owned by the (citizen) investors, is created.
The program itself is run by a not-for-profit organization, called Repowering London, which specializes in facilitating the set-up of the projects.
Citizens finance the projects. Part of the profits of the solar projects are invested in a Community Energy Efficiency Fund (CEEF). The fund is used to improve the energy efficiency of the housing stock in London. The co-operative members together with the community develop the energy saving initiatives in the area. Brixton Energy Solar 1, Solar 2 and Solar 3 demonstrate a best practice in energy savings with their broader social approach. They target via their projects the households who need it the most, e.g. in social housing where energy poverty is a real issue.
For every new project a new share offer is opened to raise sufficient funds. This is open to all British citizens, prioritizing local residents in the case of oversubscription. The community share offers last five weeks, which turns out to be sufficient to raise the money needed.
The expected return on investment is about 3-5%, although it is not the financial benefits that are the most important, but rather the creation of well-being in the community.
The solar projects serve as the means to build a resilient community. Every new project and new REScoop is a “new journey” where new community members are involved in its development. The REScoop raises awareness about energy efficiency and wants to tackle fuel poverty. In addition they provide training and employment for the local people.
The project is not only about renewable energy production or saving of kilowatt-hours. It is also about improving the resilience of a local community. Repowering London wants to create resilience by educating and training young people in the community. Every solar project also offers internships to students, ranging from IT specialist to law students and offers work placements on its renewable energy installation. The aim is to get members of the community involved to learn the trade.