Edinburgh solar power project set to be UK’s largest community-owned urban renewable energy scheme

TV weather presenter Heather Reid launches the Edinburgh Community Solar Cooperative energy project with school pupil Abi Kinloch, aged six.
TV weather presenter Heather Reid launches the Edinburgh Community Solar Cooperative energy project with school pupil Abi Kinloch, aged six.

It wasn’t just a case of  ‘Sunshine on Leith’ (in the words of The Proclaimers’ song) but sunshine all over Edinburgh today as former TV presenter Heather ‘the Weather’ Reid brought some welcome sunshine to the entire city at the launch of a new solar energy project at a local primary school.

Capital residents are being encouraged to buy shares in the scheme – run by the Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative – to install solar panels on up to 25 schools, community and leisure centres owned by Edinburgh council, including Gylemuir Primary.

The minimum share purchase is £250 per person, and if the project raises enough money to install panels on all sites, it will become the UK’s largest community-owned urban renewables scheme.  

Once complete, it should generate enough green energy to build a £1 million community fund and save the council nearly 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

Pupils at the school were on hand to show off their own renewable energy ideas – including models of machines which could use green power – and to find out more about the project.

Speaking at the launch, Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland and Chairman of the co-op, said: “This share offer is a great way for residents of Edinburgh – and beyond – to become part owner of a renewable energy scheme.

“Anyone in Scotland – in fact anyone in the UK – can apply to buy shares, but preference will be given to people living within the city. In total we are looking to raise £1.4 million, and if the offer is, as we hope, oversubscribed, local residents will be first in line.

“Every co-op member is projected to receive a return of 5% 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.”

Subject to approval from HMRC, the investment will also be eligible for the Enterprise Investment Scheme, offering income tax relief of 30% on any investment.

Councillor Adam McVey, vice-convenor of Edinburgh’s environment committee, commented:  “We have an ambitious target of reducing the city’s carbon emissions by 42% by 2020 and this new community co-operative is an important step towards us achieving this.”

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