Project snapshot

Solar panel installations
To tackle fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions for low-income households

The cause

Energise Barnsley is an environmental community benefit society, set up in 2015 by several organisations and individuals working together to deliver lasting social impact across the Barnsley area of South Yorkshire.

It delivers community-owned renewable energy and energy efficiency and supply projects for low-income households and community buildings. It is the largest local authority and community energy solar photovoltaic and battery storage project in the UK by number of roofs installed.

The scheme, set up in partnership with Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, consists of six areas to deliver the project’s goals of reducing energy bills and promoting sustainability in vulnerable households:

  • Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels
  • Battery storage
  • Demand-side response (DSR)
  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) trading
  • Asset management
  • Community funding

Our support

In 2016, Energise Barnsley launched its first five-year community bond, the £790,000 Barnsley Solar Bond, into which CAF Venturesome invested £150,000 – the largest individual investment in the bond.

The following year they installed 321 solar panels in low-income households – 75% of which were bungalows inhabited by elderly individuals and 25% were residents on pre-payment meters – and 16 solar panels on community buildings such as schools and sheltered housing in Barnsley. 40 batteries were also installed to homes owned by social housing, 70% of which were occupied by retired residents, with solar electricity monitors showing when the greatest savings can be made.

In 2021, Energise Barnsley returned to CAF Venturesome when launching their Series II to refinance their previous bond. We rolled over the original £150,000 into the Series II as we believe that the environmental and social impact of this innovative project is increasingly relevant in the current context of the energy crisis.

Old woman looking at elecrical appliance

The impact

The solar panels installed led to a confirmed source of income for Energise Barnsley, their principal income generated through the Feed in Tariff, a government incentive awarding a guaranteed unit price for electricity exported from registered renewable energy generators. Additional income is generated through selling electricity from larger solar assets to Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council through a power purchase agreement.

Participants in a trial by Energise Barnsley saw their energy bills fall around 30% thanks to the installation of solar panels, and 20% more as a result of the battery units. Over £40,000 of savings were made on electricity bills in the project’s first year, with more than 800MWh of low-carbon electricity generated during this time.

Since it was launched, Energise Barnsley has reduced energy bills (£278,000 in savings for residents as of March 2021[1]) and CO2 emissions across Barnsley (2,992 tonnes saved[2]). It has also used surpluses to distribute around £60,000 to local projects through its Community Fund, the largest amount of grant funding per megawatt of rooftop solar installed in the UK across community and commercial energy projects.

Energise Barnsley granted £20,000 in 2021 to Barnsley’s Community First Credit Union branch to help those most in need of paying bills. It has also partnered with the council and other organisations in fuel poverty and energy efficiency initiatives such as installing smart batteries in partnership with Age UK Barnsley to enable households to increase solar self-consumption levels.

Energise Barnsley has proven its commitment to the Barnsley community by helping to reduce levels of fuel poverty, supporting the most vulnerable in the community, reduce carbon emissions and educate residents on energy saving and low-carbon technologies.

The current energy crisis highlights Energise Barnsley’s high social impact and will strengthen the call for more domestic solar and batteries to protect low-income homes from energy price volatility.

“We are delighted to have the continued support of CAF Venturesome, investing alongside our community bond holders, into our community solar bonds.”

David Malsom, Energise Barnsley Director


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