Brighton and Hove Energy Saving Co-operative (BHESCO) has launched a new share offer that aims to raise £1 million to help fund up to 10 community renewable energy projects in Sussex.

BHESCO is inviting members of the public to invest a minimum of £250 in the community fund, with investors expected to receive a 5-7% year on year return. The first set of installations will see a total retrofit on energy saving and generation technologies for a social enterprise that manages affordable office spaces.

In addition, BHESCO is working with Brighton & Hove City Council to install solar on various schools in the district. However, the council is currently evaluating all solar PV installs on its estate following a fire at Hove Town Hall believed to have been caused by an electrical fault in the solar array.

The community energy projects will benefit from receiving feed-in tariff and renewable heat incentive payments which will provide revenue for BHESCO and investors a return on their investment. In addition, BHESCO will look to reinvest profits into more community-owned projects. The recipients of the community-funded energy makeovers will all benefit from unlimited use of the energy generated, substantially slashing their energy bills and carbon footprint.

Kayla Ente, founder and director of BHESCO explained why community energy projects will hold increasing importance as the country moves to a low-carbon economy. She said: “As well as being an exciting opportunity for the South East, this project has national significance. Due to continuous price rises and poor customer service from the ‘Big Six’, 67% of Britons would like the energy industry to be renationalised.

“Community energy groups offer the alternative and can restore the trust that was lost, but many need to be future-proofed. Our model can help them do just that and we’re putting it to the test with our first share launch. As well as the immediate financial returns from investment, we want people from across the country to see the wider potential of this project. The great thing is anyone can get involved.”

It’s a point that Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavillion, agrees with, adding: “We know governments can and should do more, but people tired of waiting for an energy revolution can take matters into their own hands by investing in BHESCO. I think this is incredibly powerful, and I hope that in years to come, when we look over a city generating a large part of its energy renewably, we can say it started with people taking matters into their own hands in a positive way.”