British Gas Solar, the solar-focused arm of Centrica’s distributed generation business, is to continue work on the Energise Barnsley solar PV scheme after a new bond offer launched to finance the project.
The bond offer aims to raise around £1.2 million to finance the deployment of 2MW of rooftop solar to be fitted across council-owned buildings and housing, offering returns of around 5% for would-be investors.
Local housing, sheltered accommodation, schools and other community buildings in Barnsley will receive solar PV systems, which will be designed and installed by British Gas Solar.
British Gas Solar runs the scheme jointly alongside Energise Barnsley and Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, and the project has already installed solar on more than 320 council homes.
The council was forced to suspend deployment under the programme in February this year after the feed-in tariff cuts rendered future installations uneconomical, however the bond offer would help deployment to resume. Energise Barnsley is also set to launch a battery storage trial to test the technology’s impact on solar economics.
Chris Morrison, head of energy construction services at Centrica Distributed Energy and Power, said that the company was seeing increased interest from businesses and the public sector in distributed generation, with projects like Energise Barnsley proving to be a “significant part” of that transition.
“Having successfully installed the first wave of solar panels in Barnsley, we look forward to raising the prominence of solar in the town further with this new bond, supporting local residents to reduce their bills and invest in projects that matter to them,” Morrison said.
The project has also received the support of Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis, who said: “It’s a fantastic example of a community energy initiative between the council and a community benefit society.”
Andy Heald, director at Energise Barnsley, said that while rooftop solar was “no longer commercially viable” for individual homes given the feed-in tariff reset, projects like his own represented a significant boon for the industry.
“We adopted this local authority and community energy partnership model after the government’s Community Energy Strategy two years ago… we’re already working on the next initiatives. We hope residents and investors will take a stake in Energise Barnsley, and support the new solar bond,” he said.