Liverpool Community Renewables

Monthly Archive: March 2015

Update on the investment we attracted so far.

We now have managed to raise £35000 in shares from our new members. There is still some to go to reach the target of £80000, but we are pleased with the result so far. if you are interested to find our more, read our pioneer share offer, and if you have got some spare money that you could invest in your community, please fill in the application, found at the end of this document. The closing date for applications is 15th of May, but don’t leave it too late!

 

We’ve won a UCEF grant!

Yes, a few months ago we applied for grant money from the Urban Community Energy Fund (UCEF), and we have been selected! This will be £13000, a great success. This money will take us a considerable way to develop our planned sites, and is very welcome. Remember that you can also become a member of Liverpool Community Renewables and invest in our pioneer share offer.

Since the launch of UCEF there have been 18 successful applicants. If you are part of a urban community energy group, it is worth checking out if your group might be eligible and then apply. Details on eligibility and also how to apply can be found over at the website of the Centre for Sustainable Energy. We were told that CSE are planning to publish who won this award and also  put the locations of these projects on a map. We will keep you posted.

Closing date for Pioneer Share Offer extended to 15th May

We have now extended the closing date for our pioneer share offer to 15th May, so there is still time to join Liverpool Community Renewables and invest in your community. It is now clear that the outgoing government decided to keep tax incentives like SEIS and EIS applicable for community energy generation, but not for investors into commercial schemes. More details can be found in my previous blog. Not only will you enable LCR to develop solar PV installations on community buildings in Liverpool for the benefit of the users of these buildings, but we also think that a membership and investment with us is an attractive proposition with an IRR (internal rate of return) of 4.6%, compared to current savings rates. On top of this return investor-members will be able to apply for SEIS tax relief. The minimum investment is £100.

Please print and read the offer document and if you decide to join the pioneers of community energy for Liverpool, fill in the included application form and send it to us by 15th of May.

Even if you’re undecided but might consider joining Liverpool Community Renewables in the future, please join our mailing list.

A further £4500 has taken us closer to the target of £80000

As of today we have managed to attract a total investment of £29000 from our members! This is very encouraging, but we have to reach our target of £80000 to be able plan and develop the projects we have lined up. There is still time, so come and join our growing group of pioneers into community owned energy generation. All the details and an application form are available from our Pioneer Share Offer document. If you still have questions or comments, you can also contact us directly.

Budget 2015

Back in the Autumn Statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer it was announced that tax relief for investors in renewable energy would be phased out with the end of the tax year.

This was a great concern for community energy organisations such as ours, who rely on attracting investment from our new members. Obviously a loss of a tax incentive would reduce the attractiveness of becoming a member of a community energy group and invest in renewable community owned energy generation.

But the latest Budget of 2015 has some positive news for us:

2.77 Venture capital schemes: renewable energy – As announced at Autumn Statement
2014, companies benefiting substantially from subsidies for the generation of renewable energy
will be excluded from also benefiting from EIS, SEIS and VCTs with effect from 6 April 2015,
with the exception of community energy generation undertaken by qualifying organisations
which will in future become eligible for the Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR). The government
will allow a transition period of 6 months following state aid clearance for the expansion of SITR
before eligibility for EIS, SEIS and VCT is withdrawn. (Finance Bill 2015) (y)

This means that investors will still be able to claim tax relief under SEIS (Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme), but only through investing and becoming part of qualifying community energy generation. In the future SEIS and EIS will be replaced with SITR (Social Investment Tax Relief)

And there is no better time than now to join our growing membership and invest in renewables through our pioneer share offer.

The Pioneer Share Offer is live!

We are really excited about presenting our Pioneer Share Offer to the public: We want to raise £80,000 through attracting new members/investors to our Society. We hope that this will be the start of community owned energy in Liverpool, and you can be part of it. Please download the Share Offer Document to get all the details. At the end of the document you will also find an “Application Form for the Purchase of Shares in Liverpool Community Renewables”.

To be kept updated, please join our mailing list using the contact form.

Pioneer Share Offer

Liverpool Community Renewables is preparing a Pioneer Share Offer. The aim is to seed-fund a number of Solar PV projects which are in the planning stage. Early investors into LCR might be eligible for income tax relief under SEIS1. We aniticpate to have a prospectus ready for early March 2015. If you are interested in investing into our co-operative as a member or just to express an interest, please contact us or join the mailing list.

[1] Eligibility can not be guaranteed and has to be ascertained with your tax advisor.

Why do we need community renewable energy?

Our current energy market is not working in the interests of ordinary people. Nor is it capable of facing up to the main challenges of the 21st century.

Energy is now a central environmental, social and economic issue and is too important to leave to the market

The energy sector accounts for 4% of GDP and is controlled by the “big six” (British Gas, EDF, E.ON, RWE npower, Scottish and Southern (SSE), Scottish Power) who supply 99% of all households with energy and own 71% of total electricity generating capacity.

Of these six companies only two are British owned and headquartered in the UK, meaning most of our energy system is owned by foreign transnational corporations.

Wholesale energy prices are volatile and dependence on imports from unstable regions is growing and CO2 emissions have barely fallen in EU despite the Kyoto Protocol and Copenhagen.

Fuel Poverty is accepted as a normal part of business as usual as are above inflation price increases. Since 2005 gas prices have risen by 120%, electricity prices by 75%. In 2009, 23% of households in Liverpool City Region were in fuel poverty.

As prices have risen the perception that the “big six” are profiteering- passing on rises in wholesale gas prices to customers, but not the falls- has led to declining trust in the industry. In 2009 in a consumer focus survey in consumer confidence, the gas and electricity market came bottom out of 45 markets. A 2014 study found only 32% of Britons trust energy companies- making it the least trusted sector behind banking and the media.

We need to shift relatively quickly from centralised carbon based energy to distributed renewable energy and massively reduced energy consumption. The current market is a blockage because the business model of the big six and the lack of trust of the consumers in them, mean they are not capable of leading this transition (despite being entrusted to do so by recent governments.)

The transition is at odds with their interests- as they sell energy by the kilo-watt hour for profit.

We need to quickly decarbonise our energy system because of the greatest threat we have faced as a global civilisation – Climate Change.

It is almost certain that using fossil fuels changes the climate. Most carbon dioxide emission come from burning fossil fuel, and the main reason we burn fossil fuels is for energy.

Agriculture contributed one eighth of green-house gas (GHG) emissions in 2000, energy contributed three quarters. The climate change problem is principally an energy problem.

In Copenhagen 2009, there was a consensus that global warming needed to be limited to 2oC. To avoid a 2oC rise in global temperatures requires a massive reduction in global CO2 emissions.

The consensus on carbon reduction targets for developed countries are around 80%. The  IPCC recommends 80% by 2050 and the UK government passed the climate change act, legislating for a legally binding 80% cut in UK GHG emissions by 2050.

However if we subscribe to the only socially just way of dealing with the CO2 emission problem, that means contraction and convergence, which means by 2050 everyone on the earth will have the same per-capita CO2 emission allowance, 1 tonne per year.

For a country like the UK that means a more than 85% CO2 reduction. This is such a deep cut that the best way to think about it is to just go for net zero carbon emissions.

The Centre for Alternative Technology have been researching the UK energy system for years and have developed a plan, Zero Carbon Britain.

Zero Carbon Britain is based on what is physically possible, rather than what is politically or socially possible.

This report says that we can rapidly de-carbonise our society, energy system, agriculture, transport, and maintain a decent standard of living using the technology we currently have.

This does require a massive 60% reduction in energy demand, in order to work, but the remaining demand can be met, 100% by renewables, using technology we have available now.

It is physically possible, Liverpool Community Renewables want to be part of the movement that makes it socially and politically possible.

 

What is Community Energy

Community energy for me means the shift away from centralised, corporate ownership of the production and distribution of energy towards community, decentralised not-for-profit ownership.

It is the transition from a carbon based energy system to a system of distributed generation of energy generated from renewable sources- Solar PV or Thermal, heat pumps, wind turbines (off-shore and on), biomass, wave and tidal power.

For a project or organisation to describe itself as being part of the Community Energy sector, it must have certain characteristics.

  • it must be owned and/or democratically accountable to the community in which it operates – ideally both.
  • it must re-invest any surplus they generate from their activities back into the community it serves – either helping to reduce energy use or developing more renewable energy capacity.
  • there should not be any barriers to members of the community participating in the projects and the active participation of community members should be encouraged.
  • It’s activities must bring tangible benefits to the community in which it operates; reducing energy demand or cheaper energy tariffs.
  • it must deliver a financial return to investing members and other investors.

 

The money circulated from the activities of generating, supplying and saving energy are captured and retained in the locality.