The rooftop of Kerry T&N in Shropshire. Image: Big Solar Co-op

The rooftop of Kerry T&N in Shropshire. Image: Big Solar Co-op

Big Solar Co-op has announced that its first community rooftop solar installation is underway at a Shropshire food processing plant with sustainable solar panels from Swiss manufacturer Meyer Burger. 

Big Solar Co-op has so far raised over £1 million from more than 500 investors with a share offer with a target 5% annual return. 

The new Big Solar Co-op project is the first time Meyer Burger solar panels have been used on this scale in the UK. Meyer Burger established a manufacturing business in Germany in 2021 using 100% renewable energy and a “substantial proportion” of polysilicon sourced from Germany and South Korea, rather than China.  

“The panels are also certified free from lead and PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) making them simple to recycle at the end of their life,” says Big Solar Co-op, which the company claims means it is one of the most sustainable and ethical rooftop solar installations in the UK. 

With the solar industry aiming to improve transparency in a supply chain dogged by accusations of China’s use of forced labour, Big Solar Co-op is aiming to show investors that its new project is one of the most ethical so far in the UK.  

Jon Hallé, co-founder of Big Solar Co-op, said: “As champions of environmental and social justice and active participants in the solar industry, we need to both understand the supply chain issues and act on our findings.”  

“Our research brought us to Meyer Burger who are showing genuine leadership on the solar sourcing problem matched with real quantifiable progress. Meyer Burger panels combine very high quality and efficiency with a serious claim to be both the most ethical and greenest panels in the UK market. We’re proud to be pioneering their use in the UK market,” Hallé said. 

Scott McDaniel, head of sales UK & Ireland at Meyer Burger, said “Meyer Burger is on the way to proving that we can grow a viable solar PV industry in Europe. We couldn’t be more pleased that our first UK solar installation is with the Big Solar Co-op who have a genuinely innovative approach to community owned solar, helping businesses and communities increase their energy independence.”  

Meyer Burger solar panels are being installed at the Kerry T&N food processing plant in Tenbury Wells, to a total capacity of over 300kW. Kerry T&N is a major employer in South Staffordshire, and the installation will help reduce its energy costs at a time of rising energy prices. 

The Big Solar Co-op is currently raising funds from investors to carry out more similar installations through a rolling share offer.  

In July 2022, the Big Solar Co-op announced that they planned to raise £1.2 million to invest in three Midlands-based projects. The Co-op reached its minimum investment target of £600,000 in October 2022.