The Big Solar Co-op is jumpstarting community solar with a new volunteer-led, ethical model that works anywhere in the UK. They’re aiming to install 100MW of solar by 2030 – cutting carbon emissions to combat climate change.
They have been incubated by Sharenergy Co-operative and grew out of their 12 years of experience delivering community solar and so much more besides. They continue to work together very closely, as the Big Solar Co-op is developed.
Their different approach:
An evolution of the established community solar model, they’re driven by dedicated and talented people, mainly volunteers with paid support staff.
They nurture and grow their volunteer base by:
- Breaking down work into manageable portions.
- Encouraging specialisms to increase levels of expertise.
- Providing support through peer mentoring and paid staff.
- Bringing volunteers together with a sense of purpose, achievement and fun.
A large-scale approach brings many benefits from increased purchasing power to the ability to offer training and support to volunteers which is just not possible in smaller local solar co-ops.
They focus on solar embedded within communities, principally on rooftops. Every village, town and city has sites, right next to or on top of buildings that need reasonably priced, sustainable electricity. Demand is forecast to triple as people switch to electric driving and electric heating. Sooner or later every suitable rooftop will need to have solar panels.
Their focus is on large buildings, because they believe here the greatest impact can be made.
By 2030 they aim to:
- Install 100MW of rooftop solar. Each year this will save nearly 40,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions and produce enough electricity to drive over 250m miles by electric car.
- Engage 250 active volunteers across 25 local groups.
- Create 10 new sustainable jobs.
- Create ethical, accessible social investment opportunities raising £25m.
- Save over £300,000 annually on fuel bills for community buildings and social housing.
On their membership with SWM, they say:
Our primary contact is Kevin Oubridge, Local Coordinator West Midlands.