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.