Project to put solar panels in up to 25 schools

Gylemuir Primary School pupils help launch the Edinburgh Community Solar Cooperative. Picture: Julie Bull

Gylemuir Primary School pupils help launch the Edinburgh Community Solar Cooperative. Picture: Julie Bull

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Former BBC presenter Heather “the weather” Reid brought some welcome sunshine to Gylemuir Primary School as she launched a major new solar energy project.

Residents are being encouraged to buy shares in a scheme, run by the Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative, to install solar panels on up to 25 schools, community and leisure centres owned by the council.

The project aims to raise £1.4 million, which would make it the UK’s largest community-owned urban renewables scheme.

Once complete it should generate enough green energy to build a £1m community fund and save the council nearly 1000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

Ms Reid formally launched the scheme yesterday and encouraged residents across the Capital to buy shares, which offer a five per cent return on a minimum £250 investment.

She said: “I think it is a terrific initiative. Scotland’s east coast sees on average more than 1200 hours of sunshine a year and this is plenty to generate significant amounts of green power.

“It has clearly captured the imagination of the children at Gylemuir Primary School and I hope they are encouraging their parents and grandparents – and even local businesses – to buy some shares.”

Pupils from Gylemuir were on hand at the launch to show off their own renewable energy ideas, including models of machines which could use green power.

Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland and chairman of the co-op, said: “This share offer is a great way for residents of Edinburgh and beyond to become part owner of a renewable energy scheme.

“Anyone in Scotland – in fact anyone in the UK – can apply to buy shares, but preference will be given to people living within the city council area. In total we are looking to raise £1.4m, and if the offer is, as we hope, oversubscribed, Edinburgh folk will be first in line.

“Every co-op member is projected to receive a return of five per cent on their shares and any surplus the co-op generates will go towards a Community Benefit Fund which will support new sustainable energy projects.”

Councillor Adam McVey, the city’s vice-leader of environment, said: “This a wonderful project and will bring significant long-term environmental, social and economic benefits to the city. We have an ambitious target of reducing Edinburgh’s carbon emissions by 42 per cent by 2020 and this new community co-operative is an important step towards us achieving this.”

Potential investors can find out more during a series of open days throughout the month. The first will be held at Liberton Primary School next Saturday from 10am-4pm.

To download or order a share offer document, or to find out more, visit www.edinburghsolar.coop, call 01229 821028 or text SUNSHINE to 60777.