The last few days have been a brilliant advert for solar energy in Scotland.
Today, as our capital basked in some superb September sunshine, we had the perfect launch-pad for an exciting initiative to put solar panels on up to 25 public buildings around the city.
This morning I went along to Gylemuir Primary School where Heather ‘the Weather’ Reid formally launched a share offer for the Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative.
Over the next few months the co-operative (of which I am chair) plans to raise £1.4 million in community shares to install solar panels at Gylemuir Primary School and on up to a further 24 public buildings – mainly schools – owned by the City of Edinburgh Council.
The good news is the scheme will be wholly funded and owned by people like you and I.
Today’s share offer gives Edinburgh residents the chance to be a co-op member for as little as £250.
Anyone can apply to buy shares, but preference will be given to people within the City of Edinburgh Council area. So if the offer is, as we hope, oversubscribed, Edinburgh folk will be first in line.
Why community owned, I hear some people say? Well, so far Edinburgh lies pretty low in the league tables for solar power installation. One reason it is not easy for tenement owners to do projects together.
So the Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative was formed to bring solar energy to the Capital.
Of course, the idea of communities taking a stake in renewable energy is nothing new. But doing it on this scale, in an urban setting, is transformational.
If it is built as planned, it will become the UK’s largest community-owned urban renewables scheme.
Should you choose to join, you are projected to receive a five per cent return on your shares, and any surplus the co-op generates will go to build a £1 million Community Benefit Fund, which will support new sustainable energy projects across the city.
In the first five years, applications for funding will be invited from the users of buildings on which panels have been installed.
So the children of Gylemuir Primary – who today spread a little sunshine in their corner of Edinburgh – will be able to benefit from the scheme in years ahead.
It is an inspirational project, and what better way is there to bring power – quite literally – to the people of Edinburgh?
To request a share offer document or to find out more, text SUNSHINE to 60777, or visit www.edinburghsolar.coop
Richard Dixon is director of Friends of the Earth Scotland