Residents urged to invest in bright idea for solar energy

Oxford Mail: Low carbon Hub says schools and business buildings should have solar panels Low carbon Hub says schools and business buildings should have solar panels

A GREEN organisation in Oxford is to offer residents shares in a clean energy scheme worth more than £2m.

Low Carbon Hub plans to roll out a scheme across the county, in which solar panels will be installed on the roofs of school and business premises, with the electricity generated sold for a profit.

People will be able to offset their investment against income tax – effectively a 30 per cent discount on the money they put in.

Non-executive director Wendy Twist said that one third of the profits would be pumped into community clean energy projects, with the rest split between investors and the hosts. She said: “You do not have to be a rich person to be part of this. We want Oxfordshire’s green energy assets to be owned by the people of Oxfordshire.

“The share capital will raise money for projects we will have already built over the summer, so people can see what they are investing in. We have taken out a low-cost loan from supportive organisations to fund that, which the money will be used to pay back.”

Investors can expect a five to six per cent return, she said, and shares will be withdrawable.

She added: “We want as many people as possible to take part.

“Whatever the amount of investment you make you are still entitled to the 30 per cent discount.”

More than 20 schools across the county have signed up to the solar scheme.

Mrs Twist said Low Carbon Hub is currently in talks with a number of private firms, with Witney furniture shop Wesley-Barrell one of the first to sign up.

Projects are already under way, including a 140kW set of solar panels on the roof of the Oxford Bus Company’s garage in Watlington Road, Cowley.

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The array of 540 panels at its building is the biggest of its kind in Oxford.

Finance director Luke Marion said: “The project has already been a huge success on a number of levels.

“With the longer days and sunnier weather we are now generating between 3,000 and 4,000 kilowatt hours per week.”

Low Carbon Hub has also supported a scheme at St Barnabas Primary School, in Jericho, Oxford, to install a solar panels on school roofs.

Headteacher Fiona Hawkins said: “It was a mutually beneficial offer, they get our roofs and we get a 13 per cent discount on the energy.

“Parents have been great supporters of it and the children like it as well because we can monitor things like how much is used and how much is generated.”

The shares will be issued in the autumn from The Low Carbon Hub Industrial and Provident Society, with surplus profits going to community projects backed by The Low Carbon Hub Community Interest Company.

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