Low Carbon Hub

Clean energy social enterprise lauches
manifesto for change

Oxford-based social enterprise Low Carbon Hub has launched its manifesto to power Oxfordshire through community-owned, renewable energy.

Low Carbon Hub is currently aiming to finance, with community shares, its biggest project to date – a 440kW hydro project at Sandford Lock capable of powering the equivalent of 450 homes, plus solar projects on 18 schools and businesses across the region.

The first Low Carbon Hub Community Energy Manifesto details its aim to power all of Oxfordshire through an interconnected series of smart micro grids, centred on multiple small-scale, community-controlled renewable energy schemes.

Double whammy 'will destroy solar co-ops'

The manifesto also includes a ten-point ‘manifesto for change’. This outlines what the community energy sector needs from the government to make the energy transition required by commitments made by the UK at last year’s COP21 climate change conference in Paris.

Low Carbon Hub wants to change the fact that currently most of the £1.5bn spent on energy in the region each year flows out of the county to large energy companies, the majority of which are owned by foreign enterprises. With the power station at Didcot coming to the end of its life, Low Carbon Hub is proposing it is replaced by a decentralised, clean energy system – helping to keep ownership and revenue in the local area, providing jobs and a low carbon economy.

Last year, the government announced large-scale cuts to subsidies and tax relief for community energy. The move prompted a 'clean energy dash' as organisations raced to gain funding before the new rates were brought in. The 19 projects in Low Carbon Hub’s current share offer are some of the last to have secured the pre-2016 Feed-in Tariff rate.

A dash for clean community energy

Dr Barbara Hammond, Low Carbon Hub CEO, said: "Given the changes in government policy over the last year, we have had to be very light on our feet and work incredibly hard to secure the pipeline of 19 projects funded by our current share offer.

With these projects we will be increasing our asset base by 400% and guaranteeing we can have a real impact over the next 20 years, through the deployment of over £3.5m of community benefit funds the projects will generate within our community benefit model of energy generation."

The minimum investment in the current share offer is £250 and the maximum is £100,000. Shareholders receive a projected return of 5% and each investor becomes a member of Low Carbon Hub's community benefit society, receiving one vote.

In 2015, Low Carbon Hub received the Solar Power Portal Award for Community Benefit. This year it has been shortlisted for an Ashden Award, aimed at championing leaders in sustainable energy.

To see the projects that will be funded by Low Carbon Hub's share offer, visitlowcarbonhub.org/invest

The above article by James Sullivan first published on thenews.coop in May, 2016.