Brixton Energy – social housing tenants from energy ownership to a P2P networkLondon, United Kingdom Energy Communities, Local social sustainability
Brixton Energy has developed the first community-owned renewable energy project in a social housing estate in the United Kingdom. It has given social tenants the option to invest in renewable energy generation in order to not only power their buildings, but also to sell energy back to grid, and even earn some money in the process.
Starting in 2012, Brixton Energy has given social tenants in three different buildings on the Loughborough and Roupell Park housing estates in the Brixton area of London the option to buy into a renewable energy project, which uses solar panels placed on the roof of their own building. Each of the three projects is a registered cooperative that is owned by its shareholders, the social tenants, who were able to buy shares from £250. The revenue raised from the sale of these shares helped to finance the purchase and installation of the solar panels.
Subsequent works have seen batteries installed, and the development of a fully-functioning peer-to-peer energy network, based on blockchain technology.
The first site developed as part of the Brixton Energy housing was at the Elmore House social housing building. It involved the installation of a 37.24kWp solar power station on the roof. The successful first project was followed by the installation of 45kWp of solar electric panels on the roofs of the Styles Gardens buildings, which also form part of the Loughborough Estate in Brixton. It is estimated that the Styles Gardens project saves 16 tons of CO2 every year by displacing electricity generated by coal and gas power stations. The most recent project involved the installation of 52kWp of solar PV panels on the roofs of the Roupell Park social housing estate, which is also in Brixton. The panels went live in September 2014.
Since the original works on the Elmore House site have been completed, two additional phases of the development have taken place. Firstly, as part of the EDF-backed ‘CommUNITY’ project has seen the energy generated by the PV panels stored in an on-site battery, and then traded between residents (peer-to-peer) using blockchain technology.
- Brixton Energy
- Lambeth Council
Actions carried out
- The development of alternative business models for community energy; Solar PV and energy storage, anaerobic digestion, energy efficiency, on-site electricity supply, heat networks
- Internships for young people aged 16-24
- Energy advice sessions for local residents
- Solar panel-making workshops
Why it works
- Provides investors an annual return of up to 3% on their investment
- Provides an ethical and green community investment vehicle
- Provides for an ongoing Community Energy Efficiency Fund to support the delivery of local energy efficiency projects
- Loughborough Estate Management Board (LEMB) will benefit from cost savings on their energy bills for the communal lifts of Elmore House through the sale of solar energy set at 20% below commercial rates.
- The cost savings will be passed on to residents of Elmore House through a nominal reduction on their service charge.
- Provides training and work placement opportunities for local residents. For example an unemployed electrical engineer from the estate worked on the Brixton Energy solar installation through a two week work placement with Southern Solar.
- Facilitates community cohesion through a peer-to-pper energy generation, storage and trading system