City of Edinburgh Council has launched what it claims to be the UK’s largest community-owned renewables scheme, aimed at installing solar on 25 public buildings in the city.

The scheme was announced earlier this year and has now been launched, with local residents encouraged to purchase shares at a minimum price of £250 with the intention of raising £1.4 million to complete all 25 installations.

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

“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 across the city,” he added.

Should all 25 installations go ahead the co-operative would generate enough clean energy over its lifetime to establish a £1 million community fund, while saving the council up to 1000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

Edinburgh councillor Adam McVey said the project would bring “significant long term environmental, social and economic benefits” for the city and would help it meet targets to reduce carbon emissions by 42% before 2020.

The scheme was formally launched at Gylemuir Primary School in the city by former BBC weather presenter Heather Reid, who labelled it a “terrific initiative”.

“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,” she said.