A project aiming to install solar panels at 25 schools across Staffordshire hopes to benefit local people, the schools involved and communities if it successfully raises the £880,000 it requires.
The project, co-ordinated by co-operative group Gen Community, is expected to save the 25 schools between £1.8m and £2.8m over its lifetime. In addition, over the 20-year period, the equivalent of 7,329 tonnes of CO2 will be saved.
Investors are able to invest between £500 and £150,000 into the Staffordshire Sunny Schools project. According to Gen Community, the internal rate of return, when using the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) tax relief, will be 10.48%.
Under an EIS scheme, investors can invest up to £1m each year and receive an initial 30% income tax relief. Investors are also exempt from capital gains tax and inheritance tax. In the year to July, the number of companies applying to HMRC for approval under the EIS and the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) increased by 90%.
Gen Community added that the project, which is the largest community energy school project to date, promotes mutual ownership of local energy generation. In addition, the project will generate surplus funds, which will be distributed to community projects and managed by a local community benefit society.
Ben Adams, a Staffordshire county councillor who is also a cabinet member for learning and skills, said, “This project will see the schools benefit from free, environmentally friendly electricity, allowing them to invest their funds in other areas that will help enhance the education for pupils.
“Cutting bank on energy usage is not only great for our schools but also for our council tax paying residents as we continue to reduce energy bills and cut our CO2 emissions.”
Gen Community has previously raised money to install solar panels on the roofs of fuel poor houses. In March, 98 investors collectively pledged £450,000 to transform the energy requirements of residents in Newport, South Wales. The project expects to save over 2,000 tonnes of carbon during its lifetime and save the community £17,000 a year in fuel bills.