A community-based solar energy scheme in Bristol has opened its first share offer. Bristol Energy Cooperative is a local, community-owned social enterprise that aims to build and own renewable energy projects that will benefit the local region as well as produce financial returns for reinvestment on a ‘revolving fund’ model.

The first phase of the ambitious community project will see a number of solar PV arrays installed on community buildings. The income generated from the FiT will help pay interest to investors and provide additional funds for the Cooperative’s next phases which will include energy efficiency measures, renewable heat projects and domestic solar PV installations.

The Cooperative hopes to hit its £90,000 funding target through the support of Bristol residents purchasing shares and becoming members, investing as little as £50. The community scheme has been bolstered by an £11,000 grant from Bristol City Council’s Community Energy Catalyst Fund.

Mark Corbin of Bristol Energy Cooperative said: “When a number of community groups across the city were looking at forming energy co-operatives we pooled our skills and resource, and this is the result – an ambitious scheme that opens the benefits of green energy to all and will leave a lasting legacy for the next generation.

“The first phase will see the installation of approaching 200 solar panels on to roofs of community buildings in the Bristol area. In addition to making a return to investors, the project will deliver wider social benefits with energy cost savings supporting the work of community organisations and surplus money supporting other community groups with green energy projects in the area.”

The community project has been frustrated over the “ongoing detrimental impact of the changes to FiT rates,” which has continually delayed the scheme from proceeding due to uncertainty over FiT rates and fragmented investor confidence.

More information about the proposed share offer and the Bristol Energy Cooperative can be found here. The share offer is set to close on May 18.