Woodside High and Fortismere Schools
en10ergy raised about £95,000 in 2017 through a sale of Community Shares to install photovoltaic panels on roofs at Woodside High School in Wood Green. Since this installation in its final form was smaller than initially planned, a surplus was held over while anumber of other potential projects were explored. Ultimately, the funds were used to install 105 panels on the roof of the recently built science block at Fortismere School.
The panels are owned and maintained by en10ergy, who sell the electricity they generate to the schools at a discount from the usual market price. Electricity sales and the government’s Feed In Tariff, which everyone who installs pv panels is entitled to, will provide en10ergy with an income to pay its investors.
The price en10ergy charges for its electricity will save Woodside School, and Riverside School for special needs, which shares the power supply, about £1400, and all of us about 34 tons of carbon emissions, every year. en10ergy will also provide a grant towards developing educational material which can use information from the solar panels for teaching in the schools, and will assist in the delivery of a suitable and creative teaching aid.
New ways to finance community energy
We have been innovating in the financial model used to raise capital for these projects. Since government support for the renewables industry has been drastically reduced in recent years, driving a number of small providers out of business, it has been necessary to look for new ways of making community energy projects financially viable and appealing to those who would like to invest in them.
For our recent projects we have not adopted the previously usual twenty-year investment timetable. (This has been the norm because it matches the period for which Feed In Tariff payments are guaranteed.) We are using the secure income from our existing generating facilities to back our current projects by ensuring an attractive interest rate on our shares (currently about 3%-4% a year), and paying back a proportion of the capital invested each year as well.
By doing this we can reduce the period of payback on an investment to 12 years. We feel that, for many people who invest in socially beneficial projects like this, the period of twelve years will be a more suitable offer.
As an example of our procedure, our 2017 share offer can be seen in the brochure issued at the time. (The offer is now completed and closed.)
We have also been helped by a new initiative from the Mayor of London, who is now offering financial support for the initial stages of clean-energy projects, where money is required up-front for site surveys and the design of proposals, as part of a policy to improve London’s environment.