Empower Community was announced as the winner of the Residential Rooftop PV category at the Solar Power Portal Awards ceremony in Birmingham on 4th October. It was an evening of celebration for Empower Community, having also been nominated twice in the ‘Best Use of Solar in a Community/Social Benefit Project’ category.
In a strategic partnership with Peterborough City Council, the Empower Community Solar projects have won multiple awards since the project’s inception in 2015, including the Renewable Energy Association Community Award in 2015, the National Energy Efficiency and Retrofit Awards in 2016 and the Local Government Chronicle Awards Innovation category earlier in 2017.
The Empower Community Solar model works by bringing full funding, off balance-sheet, to deliver solar PV programmes for social housing and local authority and housing association buildings, all of which provide free daytime access to the solar generation.
Over the course of a 20-year roof access agreement, income from the Feed-in Tariff covers all investor repayments and operational costs, as well as generating surplus profits for the Social Landlord and their local community. This community profit is shared equally between the Landlord and a Local Community Fund (held in trust for the local community by the Empower Community Foundation – a registered charity), with the interests of all parties aligned.
Since 2015 Empower Community Solar has installed over 3,500 rooftop solar arrays with social landlords Stockport Homes, Ongo (formerly North Lincolnshire Homes), Boston Mayflower, Axiom Housing, Corby Borough Council and Northampton Borough Council, as well as 400 privately owned homes in Peterborough, and the acquisition of a further 3,000 rooftop installations from Gentoo Group in Sunderland and 1,100 from Gravesham Borough Council, taking the total number of PV assets under management to over 10,000.
Peterborough City Council provides the construction and warehouse funding, as part of its ‘Invest to Save’ programme and long-term refinancing is achieved via pension fund financing of £30m+ bundles of PV assets, including rooftop installations and FiT/PPA-backed ground-mounted solar installations.